Three Yale students arrested for flag burning, but…
The stories are going around with titles like, “Three Yale Students Arrested for Burning American Flag“, which paints a picture of protesters getting yanked off to jail because “the man” didn’t like their methods of protest.
Just one problem: the flag they burned wasn’t theirs. It belonged to a man who was flying it respectfully. Oh, and one more thing: it was attached to his house when our three Yale-educated intellectuals decided to light it up.
Three Yale University students were arrested and charged with arson and other offenses after they allegedly set fire to an American flag hanging from the porch of a New Haven neighborhood home.
The three were arrested early Tuesday after officers on patrol spotted the burning flag and tore it from the pole where it was mounted to the house on Chapel Street, police said.
Said Hyder Akbar, 23, Nikolaos Angelopoulos, 19, and Farhad Anklesaria, also 19, were arrested.
Marc Suraci, 37, owner of the two-story house on Chapel Street where the flag was burned, said he always puts flags out in front of his rental properties and said several of his relatives fought in American wars to defend the constitutional right to burn the flag as a protest.
“It makes me sick to my stomach to think that someone would burn the American flag,” Suraci, who believes flag burning should be illegal, told the New Haven Register. “But it gets to another level when it is somebody else’s flag on their own personal property.”
It sure does. I’d like to highlight the information in the story that 2 of the 3 students aren’t even American citizens. Free speech rights are protected for US citizens by the Constitution. That document does not provide for foreign nationals and their actions, frankly, should earn them both a ticket home. Not only did they demonstrate a profound lack of respect for the country providing them the educational opportunity they apparently found superior to whatever their homes offered, they engaged in multiple crimes that include arson. They set fire to something attached to someone else’s home! Their public defender is doing his job, of course, trying to pawn this off as some kind of boyish prank.
None have criminal records, Deputy Assistant Public Defender Sanford Bruce Wednesday.
“All three of these gentlemen are clearly happy to be in the United States and happy to be attending Yale,” Bruce said.
He declined to discuss a possible motive for the alleged incident, but he challenged the arson charge.
The three are being charged with two counts of reckless endangerment, breach of peace, criminal mischief in the third-degree, arson in the second-degree, conspiracy for arson, conspiracy for breach of peace, conspiracy for mischief and conspiracy for reckless endangerment. They were not charged with flag burning.
Some charges were added by Assistant State’s Attorney Karen Roberg after the three were arrested and charged by New Haven police. She substituted the arson charges for reckless burning.
First, it’s not clear at all to me that they’re happy to be in the United States. Considering they have issues with the US that motivate them to set fire to the first flag they see – regardless of who owns it, where it is at the moment, and what else might get burned down as a result – I think it’s reasonable to conclude that they’re not entirely happy with the US.
Second, they set fire to this flag while it was on someone’s house. They’re supposedly smart enough to be admitted to Yale. They don’t know that fire spreads? That lighting a flammable item that’s attached to someone’s porch makes it pretty likely that the porch will catch fire?
Let’s title this the way it should be: Three student protesters exhibit wanton disregard for community safety by setting fire to flag on homeowner’s porch. That’s the story here. The rest is just smoke and posing in an effort to deflect responsibility.
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