Veteran detained for intervening at protest where demonstrators walked on American flag

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VALDOSTA, Ga. -- Georgia police detained an Air Force veteran after she intervened in a protest where demonstrators were walking on an American flag, and cell phone video captured footage of the altercation.

Michelle Manhart is a 14-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, and when she saw a friend post a photo to Facebook showing protesters walking on an American flag she felt like she had to do something.

Manhart said she repeatedly asked Valdosta State University to stop the protesters from using the flag in their protest, as she felt it was disgraceful to treat the flag that way. Friday, Manhart took matters into her own hands.

A cell phone camera captured part of the exchange, during which a protester says: “That’s not hers” in reference to the flag.

Manhart replies: "Actually it is, actually, it is. Anytime it's been torn or ripped, it needs to be properly disposed of, and we're going to take care of that. This belongs to, actually, the entire United States."

The protester responds: "No, not, it's not yours."

The flag was taken from Manhart and given back to the protesters, which caused a scuffle. Police spoke with Manhart’s daughter about why they arrested the woman.

Officer: "Because when we told her to release [the flag], she did not."

Daughter:
"So you arrested her because she wouldn't release the flag to the people who had it on the ground."

Officer: "No, to me."

Daughter:
"She wouldn't release it to you?"

Officer: "Exactly--to the officers who asked to return property that does not belong to her."

Manhart was released because the protesters and the officers declined to press charges for theft and resisting arrest. However, the university has issued a criminal trespass warning, which prohibits Manhart from stepping foot on campus.

Still, she said she'd do it again.

"When it comes to the flag, it's our iconic symbol,” Manhart said. “It stands for everything that we are. It stands for freedom to allow those individuals to do what they want, protest... so how are you even going to justify ruining or walking upon something that's giving you the right to do what you're doing?"

The university president released a statement, saying in part: “While I firmly disagree with the actions of the protesters, I understand their right to protest.”

The school is expecting veterans groups to protest on campus on Monday, and they said they will respect their right to do so.

13 comments

  • Robert Kelley

    White Trash and Black trash STUDENTS
    WALKING ON THE AMERICAN FLAG
    At a State sponsored UNIVERSITY IN VALDOSTA!!!!
    I SAY CLOSE DOWN THIS UNIVERSITY – STOP USING MY TAX DOLLAR TO RUN THIS TYPE OF UNIVERSITY WHERE THE STUDENTS CAN WALK ON OUR AMERICAN FLAG!!!!

  • Auntie Enn

    Seems to me, this says that anyone who “maintains on the floor or ground, or tramples upon any flag of the United States shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.”
    Since no one said the flag was theirs (except the Veteran), they all should be fined and jailed as they were maintaining it on the ground and trampling over it.
    https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/700

    • James

      On 1990-06-11 the Supreme Court in the case of United States v. Eichman struck down the Flag Protection Act, ruling again that the government’s interest in preserving the flag as a symbol does not outweigh the individual’s First Amendment right to disparage that symbol through expressive conduct.

  • Cathy

    I am glad to see that she stood up for what is right. Our service members are taught to respect the American Flag and it’s values. The American Flag is never to touch the ground, and if it is torn then it is to be properly disposed of. Thank you for taking a stand.

    • Ron

      First let me say that I hate what these idiots are doing with the flag. But its their right to do it becasue fo the Supreme court.

      The ruling came in 1989 in Texas vs Johnson, when Mr. Johnson burned the flag in protest against the government. He was arrested and fined. when the supreme court finally heard the case, it ruled that the arrest was unconstituational becasue Mr. Johnson was burning the flag as a way to “express” himself, thus being a form of protected speech.

      Again, I feel that just because the legally can do something, does not make it right to do it.

  • Al Timins

    Ask those protesters if they’re willing to lay down their lives to burn our Flag. I’m sure we know what that answer is. They’re cowards, all of them.

  • Mark

    The schools action is just as bad as the students. Americans have died for the freedom that flag represents. Doesn’t that matter? Folks have a right to disagree as well as a right to go someplace else.

  • S. Gunsett

    What a disgrace! Maybe if some of these “protestors” spent some time really serving this Country, they won’t even think about disgracing our flag. Shameful – I fully support that veteran for what she tried to do – the right thing.

  • billy

    An example of the what today’s “academia” support and therefore teach college kids is ok behavior. Don’t worry, walking on the US flag in georgia is ok. If you are well spoken and try to stop it, you’ll go to jail.

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