A 22-year old man from Illinois has been charged by police after posting photos of him desecrating the American flag and decrying the actions of the United State, in what is the first arrest for flag desecration in the area for over 27 years.
Bryton Mellott posted photos on his Facebook profile of him burning the American flag, where he expressed his shame at being an American due to what he claimed was its ignoring of oppressed minorities.
“I am not proud to be an American. In this moment, being proud of my country is to ignore the atrocities committed against people of color, people living in poverty, people who identify as women, and against my own queer community on a daily basis,” Mellott wrote.
“I would like to one day feel a sense of pride towards my nationality again. But too little progress has been made. Too many people still suffer at the hands of politicians influenced by special interests. Too many people are still being killed and brutalised by a police force plagued with authority complexes and racism. Too many people are allowed to be slaughtered for the sake of gun manufacturer profits. Too many Americans hold hate in their hearts in the name of their religion and the fear of others, and that’s only to speak of domestic issues.”
“I do not have pride in my country, I am overwhelmingly ashamed and will demonstrate my feelings accordingly. #ArrestMe,” he continued.
He has been charged under Section 49-1 for flag desecration, a class four felony in the state of Chicago. He also faces charges for disorderly conduct, both as a victim and an offender. In a message on his Facebook profile, Mellott added that it’d be “super-duper if the death threats could stop.”
Talking to Forbes, Sgt. Andrew Charles of Champaign County Jail said that ““It’s when you say things that are inciteful and make it clear that you are associated with someone that doesn’t share your ideas; it got raised to a level where a reasonable person there would fear for their safety. It’s similar to yelling fire in a movie theater.”
Although originally taken down by Facebook for unknown reasons, Mellot’s Facebook page is still active, with his profile picture remaining the image of him burning the flag. It has been shared over 20,000 times.