Red Skelton Dissects The Pledge of Allegiance Video — DNC Uses Flag Desecration Video to Raise Funds — Firefighter’s Flag to Stay Put — American Flag Ban at Oregon Apartment Complex Reversed After Outcry — Dan Walker Obit — Wiki: Texas v. Johnson
“The American flag, then, throughout more than 200 years of our history, has come to be the visible symbol embodying our Nation. It does not represent the views of any particular political party, and it does not represent any particular political philosophy. The flag is not simply another “idea” or “point of view” competing for recognition in the marketplace of ideas.
Millions and millions of Americans regard it with an almost mystical reverence regardless of what sort of social, political, or philosophical beliefs they may have. I cannot agree that the First Amendment invalidates the Act of Congress, and the laws of 48 of the 50 States, which make criminal the public burning of the flag.”
William H. Rehnquist dissent opinion Texas v. Johnson
As a heart monitor beeps ominously in the background, a graffiti artist paints over the Stars and Stripes with phrases criticizing opposition to the Democratic legislation, including ‘profit over life’ and the crossed-out words ‘death panel.’ The whole flag is eventually smeared with paint and blacked out.
A Democratic fundraising video on President Obama’s political Web site shows an American flag mural being covered in graffiti and desecrated with slogans about health care reform.
As a heart monitor beeps ominously in the background, a graffiti artist paints over the Stars and Stripes with phrases criticizing opposition to the Democratic legislation, including “profit over life” and the crossed-out words “death panel.” The whole flag is eventually smeared with paint and blacked out.
One of 20 finalists in the Democratic National Committee’s “Health Reform Video Challenge,” the video shows the Los Angeles-based graffiti artist “Saber” at work, according to a copy of the video posted to YouTube.
The DNC is using the splattered Old Glory to pick up some change, asking for donations to air the winner of its contest. “[T]o put the winning ad on national television, we’ll need folks to chip in and help cover the cost of getting the ad on the air,” the DNC says on its my.BarackObama.com Web site, which hosts its Organizing for America campaign program.
“I think that most Americans no matter what their political persuasion is will find this pretty obscene and pretty shocking,” said Armstrong Williams, a conservative radio host. Williams said it was a bad message to send for the DNC to give “energy and credibility” to an artist desecrating the flag.
The video made it past a panel of judges “comprised of DNC employees,” the site says. All finalists were screened to find “the most apt, creative, original and interesting video” that provides “clarity of message concerning supporting health insurance reform.”
Supporters defended the video and said it might strike a chord with Americans who are interested in health care reform.
“I don’t really think it’s an issue,” said Leonard Jacobs, editor of the Clyde Fitch Report. “It’s one of 20 videos, and graffiti is protected by the First Amendment. And it’s certainly something that might hook up with the way people feel.”
Now in the final round, the remaining 20 videos will be judged by a panel of experts including DNC chief Tim Kaine; Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa.; singer will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas; actress Rosario Dawson; and Seth MacFarlane, creator of the TV cartoon “Family Guy.”
A spokesman for Organizing for America told the Politico that the group was not prepared to provide comment on the video, but gave the contest a big push online.
“We’re closer than we’ve ever been to passing real health reform, but we need to keep pushing forward and tipping the debate in favor of reform — and the winning video could do just that,” they wrote.
Krapf will be allowed back to work Thursday
After two hours of negotiations, fire and union officials reached a resolution Monday afternoon to reinstate James Krapf and allowed him to display the red, white and blue on his locker.
“I am glad to be back and ready to go back to doing my job,” said Krapf.
Krapf was suspended last week, without pay, after disobeying an order from Chester City Fire Commissioner James Johnson to remove the American flag from his locker. A department policy prohibited firefighters from posting personal items on lockers after a recent poster was found to be offensive.
“There was never an intent to desecrate the American flag,” said Fire Commissioner James Johnson during a press conference. More than 25 protesters showed up for a rally in support of Krapf outside the firehouse on East 14th Street Monday morning. Krapf said he expects to be reimbursed for a day and a half in back pay.
Firefighter suspended for refusing to peel American flag sticker from locker
“The chief came out and said ‘You have to remove your stickers,’ I said ‘No disrespect chief, but I’m not taking the flag off,'” Krapf recounted. He says the officer then asked him to leave.
Fire Commissioner James Johnson, who served in the Marine Corps, vows the symbolism of the decal is not the issue.
“We wear the American flag on our uniform…it’s flying outside that station,” he said. “It is not about the American flag or patriotism.”
But Krapf refuses to give up and he’s not alone. The firefighters union plans to negotiate with the department on the issue.
Krapf, who was turned away from the station again Friday, plans to stand his ground. “It’s the American flag, we should be able to fly it wherever we want…I don’t believe it’s offensive to anyone,” he said.
The issue and Krapf’s fate is scheduled to be discussed at a meeting on Monday.
Chester, Pa., firefighter James Krapf wants to know what’s wrong with Old Glory. The 11-year veteran was suspended without pay Thursday after he refused to peel a sticker of the American flag from his locker.
“It’s pride…it’s a matter of pride,” Krapf said.
A new department rule mandates that all stickers and statements — union, cartoon and political — be stripped from lockers after several offensive and racist images showed up in the firehouse. But Krapf figured the red, white and blue was safe.
It seems he was wrong.
An Oregon apartment complex reversed its ban prohibiting residents from flying American flags from dwellings and parked vehicles after the property manager decided she didn’t have the legal standing to do so, KATU in Portland reported Wednesday.
October 19, 2009
The American Civil Liberties Union said that Barb Holcomb’s ban at Oaks Apartments did not violate any laws, but Holcomb said her legal cousel led her to believe otherwise so she reversed the decision.
“If people want to fly any flag of any nationality, it’s their right,” she told KATU. “When a tenant rents the unit, the inside of the unit belongs to the tenant. All automobiles and things attached to the automobiles are the personal property of the tenant.”
Holcomb told KATU that the flag flap was caused by how two sections of the rental agreement that all tenants sign were interpreted.
Residents’ outrage started when Jim Clausen, whose son is in the military and on his way back to Iraq, was told he couldn’t fly an American flag from the back of his motorcycle.
If he didn’t take the flag down, he was told he’d face eviction, the station reported on Monday.
“It floored me,” Clausen told the station. “I can’t believe she was saying what she was saying. It [the flag] stands for the people that can no longer stand — who died in wars. That’s why I fly the flag.”
Holcomb admitted she was wrong to ban the flags after the public outcry received national media attention.
“What we were trying to do was to keep the peace,” she told the station, declining to say if a particular incident sparked the ban. “Obviously, we were wrong. If the peace needs to be kept, it belongs to the police department.”
Holcomb received numerous calls from the media focusing on the American flag ban, although the policy itself did not specifically single out the U.S. flag and allow the flags of other nations.
“I made a policy. I was wrong,” she said.
Sharron White, a long-time resident, was originally told by management to take down the flag she’d flown on her car for eight years because “someone might get offended.”
“I just said to her, ‘They’ll just have to get over it,'” White said before the ban was lifted.
The ban had also applied to flag stickers on cars, as well as sports flags.
By KVAL News and KVAL.com staff
KVAL is a news partner with KATU.com
ALBANY, Ore. — Flags are OK again at an Albany apartment complex after the property manager reviewed the policy and decided she didn’t have the legal standing to ban flags from the exteriors of apartments and vehicles parked at the complex.
“If people want to fly any flag of any nationality, it’s their right,” said Barb Holcomb with Oaks Apartments.
KVAL News also contacted the American Civil Liberties Union to ask whether the policy banning flags from the apartment complex violated any laws. The answer from the ACLU: No.
But Holcomb said she received different legal counsel that led her to believe she is wrong to ban the flags.
“When a tenant rents the unit, the inside of the unit belongs to the tenant,” Holcomb said Wednesday. “All automobiles and things attached to the automobiles are the personal property of the tenant.”
Holcomb said the flag ban was based on interpretation of two sections of the rental agreement all tenants sign.
“What we were trying to do was to keep the peace,” she said, declining to say whether a specific incident sparked enforcement of the ban. “Obviously, we were wrong. If the peace needs to be kept, it belongs to the police department.”
She said her boss has stood by her — both when she enforced the policy and when she lifted it.
“I made a policy. I was wrong,” she said. “My boss is a wonderful man. He backed me 100 percent — even when I was wrong.”
The story garnered national attention because of the ban on American flags, although the policy did not specifically single out the U.S. flag and allow the flags of other nations.
The result for Holcomb: Numerous phone calls from the media.
“If they want to speak to me, they speak to me,” she said of the calls. “If they want to yell at me, they yell at me.”
KVAL News asked whether she had talked to the resident who originally went to the media with the story. Holcomb said no, although she said she would talk to him — and would have talked to him before he went to the media. Holcomb said he did not approach her before talking to KVAL News partner KATU.
“He’s just a romping, stomping patriot,” Holcomb said.
By Melica Johnson KATU News and KATU.com Staff
ALBANY, Ore. – At the Oaks Apartments in Albany, the management can fly their own flag advertising one and two bedroom apartments – but residents have been told they can’t fly any flags at all.
Jim Clausen flies the American flag from the back of his motorcycle. He has a son in the military heading back to Iraq, and the flag – he said – is his way of showing support.
“This flag stands for all those people,” said Clausen, an Oaks Apartment resident. “It stands for the people that can no longer stand – who died in wars. That’s why I fly this flag.”
But to Oaks Apartment management, Clausen said, the American flag symbolizes problems.
He was told to remove the red, white and blue from both of his rides, or face eviction.
“It floored me,” he said. “I can’t believe she was saying what she was saying.”
Even long-time residents like Sharron White, who has flown a flag on her car for eight years, has been told to take it down.
White said management told her that “someone might get offended.”
“I just said to her ‘They’ll just have to get over it,'” White said.
Resident we talked to who had been approached to take down their flags all told us the same thing: that management told them the flags could be offensive because they live in a diverse community.
Attempts to find out for ourselves why management would ban flags were unsuccessful. KATU wanted to talk to management at Oaks Apartments, but no one has returned our calls. The woman we were told had made the decision said she was “not going to answer any questions.”
The mother of one soldier fighting in Iraq put up a poster in her son’s apartment window when she learned of the ban. Her son’s roommate said he’ll risk eviction to make sure it stays.
Another Oaks Apartment resident, Judith Sherer, doesn’t have a car. Instead she carries an American flag around the complex to protest the ban, and wonders if the flag pin she wears is next to be “singled out.”
“If I put it on and I walk outside, what’s going to happen?” Sherer muses. “Am I going to be confronted by a manager about this?”
We’re told the ban includes sports flags and even flag stickers on cars.
Dan Walker, veteran who buried flag that had been burned by protester, dies at 81
Veteran buried flag burned by protester
FORT WORTH – Dan Walker, an Army war veteran who was honored for gathering and burying a U.S. flag that was burned in protest during the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas, has died. He was 81.
Walker, who was captured by TV cameras carefully retrieving the flag remnants so they could be buried properly, died Wednesday of prostate cancer at his Fort Worth home.
Walker told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram after the incident that he felt compelled to act after seeing someone try to stomp out the fire.
“I didn’t want someone sweeping it up with a broom and putting it in an ashcan,” said Walker, a veteran of World War II and the Korean War.
The man who burned the flag was convicted under a Texas law banning desecration of the flag. His conviction was thrown out in 1989 by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that flag burning was a constitutionally protected free speech.
Walker’s son, Rusty Walker, recalled being shocked but not surprised when he turned on the national news the night of the flag burning and saw his father.
“He was a West Point graduate, and when he saw them burning the flag, he couldn’t stand it,” he said.
Walker disposed of the ashes according to flag care guidelines and buried them in his backyard. He later was presented with the U.S. Army’s highest civilian award and received a letter from President Ronald Reagan.
His pastor said Walker didn’t like all the attention.
“My sense is he saw what was happening and reacted instinctively,” said the Rev. Ken Horton, senior pastor of McKinney Memorial Bible Church, where Walker was a member.
“He had a great love of country and was a man of honor who thought it was his responsibility to protect that flag, or at least rescue it,” Horton said. “I think he was a little bashful about the publicity, but at the same time he was happy that he was at a place where he could do what he thought was right.”
Services will be at 2 p.m. today at McKinney Memorial Bible Church, 4805 Arborlawn Drive in Fort Worth, the Star-Telegram reported.
BRANCH MANAGER REPORTEDLY ORDERS REMOVAL OF FLAGS PLACED TO HONOR FALLEN MARINE
Texas v. Johnson
Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989), was a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that invalidated prohibitions on desecrating the American flag in force in 48 of the 50 states. Justice William Brennan wrote for a five-justice majority in holding that the defendant’s act of flag burning was protected speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Johnson was represented by attorneys David D. Cole and William Kunstler.
Gregory Lee Johnson participated in a political demonstration during the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas. The demonstrators were protesting the policies of the Reagan Administration and of certain companies based in Dallas. They marched through the streets, shouted chants, and held signs outside the offices of several companies. At one point, another demonstrator handed Johnson an American flag taken from a flagpole outside one of the targeted buildings.
When the demonstrators reached Dallas City Hall, Johnson poured kerosene on the flag and set it on fire. During the burning of the flag, demonstrators shouted such phrases as, “America, the red, white, and blue, we spit on you, you stand for plunder, you will go under,” and, “Reagan, Mondale, which will it be? Either one means World War III.” No one was hurt, but some witnesses to the flag burning said they were extremely offended. One witness, Daniel E. Walker, received international attention when he collected the burned remains of the flag and buried them according to military protocol in his backyard.
Johnson was charged with violating the Texas law that prohibits vandalizing respected objects. He was convicted, sentenced to one year in prison, and fined $2,000. He appealed his conviction to the Fifth Court of Appeals of Texas, but he lost this appeal. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals would then see his case. This was the highest court in Texas that would see Criminal Appeals. That court overturned his conviction, saying that the State could not punish Johnson for burning the flag because the First Amendment protects such activity as symbolic speech.
The State had said that its interests were more important than Johnson’s symbolic speech rights because it wanted to preserve the flag as a symbol of national unity, and because it wanted to maintain order. The court said neither of these state interests could be used to justify Johnson’s conviction.
The court said, “Recognizing that the right to differ is the centerpiece of our First Amendment freedoms, a government cannot mandate by fiat a feeling of unity in its citizens. Therefore that very same government cannot carve out a symbol of unity and prescribe a set of approved messages to be associated with that symbol . . .” The court also concluded that the flag burning in this case did not cause or threaten to cause a breach of the peace.
The State of Texas asked the Supreme Court of the United States to hear the case. In 1989, the Court handed down its decision. The opinion of the court came down as a controversial 5-4 decision, with the majority opinion written by William J. Brennan, Jr. Justices Marshall, Blackmun, Scalia, and Kennedy joined Brennan, with Kennedy also writing a concurrence.
Additional Flag Information: