Five Things Flag Burning Tells Us about the Police and Their Supporters

Older man assaults younger man for burning a flag

This meme went viral over Independence Day weekend. In it, a collage of photos shows a young man burning an American Flag and an older man snatching the flag from the flames, shoving it into the younger man’s face and pushing him down on the ground.

Regardless of how you feel about flag burning, you should know that the Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that it is an act of protected free speech under the First Amendment. You should also know that initiating physical violence on someone for burning the flag is not exercising your First Amendment rights; it is the criminal act of assault. Being aware of these two facts already puts you way  ahead of the cops and cop apologists posting at Survive the Streets: A Page for Cops and Police Beat, two pro-police Facebook pages that shared the series of images above.

The comments left on the pages speak volumes about the cops and cop apologists who wrote them, and it isn’t that they are fine upstanding Americans.

Most of the police comments on the flag burning photos fell into one or more of the following categories:

  • Praise for the unarguably illegal act of assaulting another person
  • Assurances that they would either find a convenient excuse to not be in the immediate area when they knew a flag burner was being beaten, or exercise their discretion by not arresting the aggressor
  • Threats that they would arrest anyone burning the flag because it was illegal (no, it’s not), or that they would fish for other excuses to arrest them like “starting a fire without a permit”
If you can't beat 'em, rape 'em!

And then there’s this guy. If you can’t beat ’em, rape ’em!

This shows us that…

1. No, Cops Do Not Protect Our Rights

It’s amazing that anyone can even still say this one with a straight face anymore. There are so many examples of how stomping on our rights is now standard operating procedure for most law enforcement agencies, that it’s hard to even know where to start (how about planting evidence to frame people,  charging people with assaulting an officer because they wriggled in their handcuffs, outright theft, and everything in this entire article).

Out of thousands of comments, only a few correctly stated that there was no cause to arrest the person who burned the flag, and that even if they agreed with his actions, the law dictates that the older man would have to be arrested for assault.  Which leads us to…

2. Even When They Know We Are Watching, Cops Still Can’t Behave Themselves


See how many people liked this guy’s comment? That’s about the same number of people that listened to him.

3. Cops Do Not Know the Laws They Enforce (And it Doesn’t Matter)

Cops and cop apologists are fond of dismissing those who criticize police misconduct as “having gotten their Facebook Law degrees,” however  they often seem pretty unclear  on basic tenets of the law themselves, including simple things like how it’s unlawful to use physical force on people when you don’t like what they say or do. The sad reality is that there’s no requirement for cops to actually be knowledgeable about the law. In fact the Supreme Court ruled last year that it’s perfectly legal for cops to detain you for breaking a law that doesn’t even exist and then search your property for evidence of a real crime.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse

4. Cops Already Choose Not to Help People They Don’t Like

It’s likely that you’ve already heard cop apologists claim that cops are so valiant that they would still put their lives on the line for ungrateful citizens who criticize them. The cops commenting online didn’t seem to have any hesitation about not intervening to help an assault victim when they didn’t agree with his politics. Talk is cheap, especially on the internet, but this flows from a long history of refusing to intervene on behalf of groups they don’t deem worthy of protection.

Take for example, the Civil Rights era, which was full of incidents like the Montgomery, Alabama Freedom Ride, where police conveniently disappeared right before a bus full of civil rights activists was attacked by a violent mob of racists:

President John F. Kennedy was concerned about the violence and bus burning that had occurred during the first Freedom Ride the previous week. He telephoned the governor of Alabama and insisted that it was the government’s responsibility to guarantee safe passage of interstate travelers. A bus with police and helicopter escort was then sent to Birmingham to take the Freedom Rides on to Montgomery. Once the group arrived in Montgomery however, the protection disappeared and more violence ensued. A crowd of three hundred gathered. Approximately twenty-five of them armed with clubs and sticks began beating the newsmen and cameramen.

James Zwerg, a young white man, got off the bus and was greeted with chants of “Kill the nigger-loving son of a bitch!” He was beaten to the ground and never attempted to defend himself, even as his face was stomped into the ground. The mob turned its attention to the rest of the riders and everyone was beaten.

After what has been reported as anywhere from five to twenty minutes, police came and used tear gas to break up the crowd, which had grown to a thousand.

5. Cop Apologists Are Some of the Worst People in the World, Perhaps Even Worse Than Abusive Cops Themselves

As bad as the comments were from cops, they were topped by the ones from their rabid supporters. It really seems there could never be an incident of police misconduct or blatant rights violation that the unprincipled mob of cop apologists wouldn’t greet with screams of, “MORE! Make it worse next time!”

Even as more and more leaders in law enforcement emphasize de-escalation and promote adopting a guardian rather than warrior approach to policing, cop apologists just double down on defending the indefensible in police behavior.

Cop Apologist Humor Q: What's wrong with this photo?  A: He should have showered them with bullets

Cop Apologist Humor
Q: What’s wrong with this photo?
A: He should have watered them with bullets.

  • Susan Cooper

    Assault is an act that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent, harmful, or offensive contact. The act consists of a threat of harm accompanied by an apparent, present ability to carry out the threat. Battery is a harmful or offensive touching of another.

  • LibertyforAll

    The very act of burning the United States flag highlights everything that flag represents and, in my opinion, honors it. We get worked up over the cloth and forget the freedoms it so represents.

    • Nicholas R. Haines

      You are retarded. That being said you have the lawful right to be retarded and your opinion is shit but your opinion is allowed to be as shitty as you want. You sound like a mindless fuck and I’m sure you have never fought for anything.. that being said that flag you burn means alot to alot of people. So if you burn that flag in the presence of the wrong person and get your ass smacked . Well that is a whole other situation. That shit never happens when im around. I think it should be a crime. And i think that beating the shit out of pussy ass little fucks who burn it should be mandatory.. but the law is the law therefor I have to abid.

      • samoanpunch .

        Your statements epitomizes the ignorant American that has no understanding or appreciation for the concept of freedom. Your statements and threats literally go against everything the flag and our constitution stands for. Your feelings are not more important than our rights. You can’t have freedom while stepping on the people you don’t agree with. That’s not how freedom works. Now get a hold of your emotions and do some fucking homework before you try and talk tough about how much of a fake patriot you are.

        • Nicholas R. Haines

          Apparently you didn’t take reading in your vast studies. Dumbass

          • samoanpunch .

            That it? Not going to spew any more idiotic statist bullshit trying to prove you’re the king of patriotism? Dumb ass…

          • Nessus

            Samoanpunch, being the vastly underrated idiot you obviously are I’m going to try to put this simply:

            That flag is not worth anything. No more than a bible, any book, or any other thing that “means a lot to you” (notice in real life a lot is not spelled “alot”) or means a lot to anyone else. Nobody cares, and nobody should care, unless it’s actually your property. I buy a flag and burn it, you have no right to say anything about it. Deal with it kiddo.

          • samoanpunch .

            You could’ve made you statement without the insults because if you get off your pedestal and reread what I wrote, you might actually see I am in agreement with what you said. I chose my words for a reason. The flag has a general meaning for which it stands for, not ‘worth” but meaning. The Making statements and threats go against that meaning. Nothing I said gave value to the flag.

          • rtknight

            Samoanpunch literally wrote, ” Your feelings are not more important than our rights. You can’t have
            freedom while stepping on the people you don’t agree with. That’s not
            how freedom works”. Did you actually read what he wrote? Or did you just jump to conclusions that had nothing to do with reality?

        • TheGDog

          “fake patriot” THANK YOU!! YES!! I’ve been growing increasingly perturbed over the last 8 years with how certain Americans such as Tea Party members as an example that comes to mind… incorrectly and brow-beatingly throw around the word patriot in a completely incorrect usage of it. People of this like profess some stance on an issue… and then if you… exercising your freedom disagree with their stance… they whip out with retorts that basically boil down to “What kind of patriot are you? What are you… a Traitor?” Simply because somebody challenges them on their belief and then proceeds to blow holes thru their logic with ease and make’em look bad.

      • ChiCity4life

        Another pussy keyboard warrior who knows NOTHING of the Constitution. Fuck your flag.

        • Nicholas R. Haines

          Learn how to read before you speak dumbass. I agreed with his right. Just voiced an opposing opinion stating my desire for the law to be changed and a law put in place to kick your ass for burning it. Douchebag

          • Frostbitten

            I’ll voice mine too, you’re a sensitive little bitch over it. Too bad so sad for you that some piece of cloth matters so much to you.

      • LibertyforAll

        Just the obvious Neanderthal chromosomes that is your DNA should be enough to keep me from responding Nicholas. You have some obvious issues but we’ll save that for another day.
        Let’s be clear, I would never burn the US flag because of my absolute reverence for it. However, with that being said, the values represented by the flag when some disrespectful punk burns it are a powerful statement indeed. In many countries you would be killed for burning their flag but in America the flag represents the powerful right to burn it in protest. What more could someone do to demonstrate the greatness of this country?
        Millions of brave men and women, patriots all, have given their lives fighting against the tyranny where other county’s leadership say, I don’t know, things like “beating the shit out of pussy ass little fucks who burn it should be mandatory.” So, perhaps you need a little remedial training on what Liberty means, yeah?

    • TheGDog

      I was just explaining this very same fact to some fucktards moments ago. The flag is just a representation of a bigger ideal. Fuckin’ retarded-ass wannabe rednecky mofos on my end over here talkin’ ’bout “Nobody better ever do that in my neighborhood.” Shit sounds SO damn retarded to hear anybody say. LibertyforAll.. I’m very happy to see there are others who freaking “Get It” when it comes to what standing on a flag and burning a flag represents… and how fucking cool that is to have in our country! So thank you for being a voice of reason.

  • DamaLama

    Is the person that updates stories on this page stupid. Is he or she to dumb to do a simple Google search of Virginias laws? Virginia has a law that prohibits the burning of the flag. Wow, and he is trying to defend the fact that everyone makes fun of people like the person who created this page as morons who earned their internet law degree by watching strawman videos on YouTube. Sad. 18.2-487 18.2-488

    • Northern Virginia Cop Block

      For one the incident happened in NY, not Virginia.Secondly, who is the dumbass who skipped right over the part that said the Supreme Court already ruled flag burning is a protected first amendment activity? That would be you. It doesn’t take an internet law degree to know that means the Virginia law and any other state law banning flag burning is unconstitutional and unenforceable.

    • ssn708

      And that law would be unconstitutional Which means it is invalid. You can’t outlaw something that is protected by the Constitution. Kind of how that whole thing works.

    • MW66VB .

      Federal Court decisions outweigh any decisions made by ANY lower court States are under the overriding authority and law of the greater United States.

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  • John Q Public

    I guess you haven’t read the comments advocating the murder of police officers and the threats cop blockers make. You guys are hypocrites.

    • Randall Goguen

      I guess you haven’t noticed the cops are doing the actual murdering. hypocrites indeed.

      • John Q Public

        I guess you haven’t (or, more than likely refused) noticed that a vast majority of people killed by police are justified and not murder. Why? Because the police have to deal with criminals who are armed and dangerous. I guess you are a criminal sympathizer then.

        • Jonathan Mckeever

          Just because the state says a murder is justified doesn’t make it so. Legality does not equal morality.

          • John Q Public

            I guess you have a problem with the police killing someone that’s trying to kill them? Alrighty then.

          • Randall Goguen

            I guess you don’t have a problem with the police killing someone that’s not trying to kill them? Alrighty then.

          • John Q Public

            Where did I say that? Oh, that’s right. I didn’t.

          • Felice Lococo

            That sir is a justified point. But please explain the case of Michael Slager lying about Walter Scott trying to take his gun. And the independent videographer that shot the video of that cop planting evidence on Walter.

        • Randall Goguen

          ” I guess you are a criminal sympathizer then.” You must be a cop sucker.

        • Felice Lococo

          What part of “With Liberty and Justice for all” don’t you understand? I for one don’t support criminals whether they are dressed in baggy pants, or a uniform with a badge on them?

    • Rod

      Putting all people who protest bad cop behavior is juvanile.

  • MW66VB .

    The reason that it is legal, is because that flag is actually our Battle Flag, that we use in times of war. so protesting it is the same as protesting war. The reason this is the only flag that you know, is because we have been at war all but 11 years since our founding.

    • samoanpunch .

      It’s legal because it’s falls under free speech and free expression. If it were to be illegal than the First Amendment and the idea of freedom would completely cease to exist in our country.

  • Deadman Belial

    Sounds like we have another Nazi Germany right here at home. To end with the opression, take your freedoms back!

  • Eduardo Mena

    Q: what’s grey and looks good on cops?

    A: The Twin Towers…

    For your flag – ACAB. For life.

  • Daniel North

    To stop someone bunring your own national flag is only a representation of how uncivilized your country is. If we live in a truly free society, that in its self should protect a flag burner. In fact it should be seen as a celebration of ones freedom.

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