A video confrontation between two apparent servicemen and demonstrators in New Mexico is stirring Internet debate over free speech versus protecting the American flag.
According to KRQE in Albuquerque, the incident took place Sunday as part of a protest against recent shootings by police. Two protesters riding a scooter carry the flag upside down – a symbol of distress recognized by the U.S. Flag Code.
But two men, one of them wearing a Marine Corps T-shirt, took it as a sign of disrespect.
Warning:Some inappropriate language
According to the flag code, “The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.”
The Albuquerque protesters apparently felt the demonstration against fatal police shootings met that standard. The men in the video didn’t seem to care.
“I don’t give a [expletive] what the symbol is,” one of the men says to a demonstrator. “We serve our [expletive] country and that’s bull[expletive].”
KRQE said it could not identify the men or confirm they are service members.
Regardless, a Marine major interviewed by KRQE said the men in the video might have been overreacting.
“There are a lot of folks that have a lot of passion about that flag and want to protect it at all costs but that doesn’t negate the fact that we’re in the service to support and defend the Constitution,” Cillissen said.
“If somebody is disrespecting that flag legitimately, it’s not any one person’s place to use intimidation or coercion to try and stop that.”
Check out the KRQE coverage here.
Twitter reaction was as split as Maj. Cillissen.
The Rick Monday rescue of the flag at Dodger Stadium in 1976 KRQE talks about is legendary for a reason. Most Americans love the flag and don’t take kindly to it being abused.
@olretiree LOVE IT! Go Marines! Thanks for that lesson more “protesters” need to learn. : )
— Brad Bever (@BeverBrad) April 2, 2014
But the flag is a piece of cloth without the Constitution it stands for, and the Constitution says freedom of speech is sacred.
— PompanoPete (@Pompanopete) April 2, 2014