Man, 62, arrested for trying to set American flag on fire near Biden's motorcade in NYC

Biden's official visit to the NYPD headquarters follows the tragic deaths of NYPD officers, Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora, during a shootout in Harlem

                            Man, 62, arrested for trying to set American flag on fire near Biden's motorcade in NYC
Man burnt US flag during the arrival of Joe Biden at NYPD HQ (Credits : Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images & Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

During a visit to the New York Police Department (NYPD) HQ in Lower Manhattan, President Joe Biden was once again accosted by hecklers who were protesting on Pearl Street. Thousands of protesters gathered behind a police barricade on Pearl Street, ready to express their not-so-friendly thoughts about the president. He visited the police headquarters in NYC to talk about crime and gun violence.
Biden's official visit follows the tragic deaths of two NYPD officers, Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora, during a shootout in Harlem. While the motorcade led Biden off the FDR Drive, one protester began chanting, "Let's go, Brandon," a now famous anti-Biden slogan. “You are not my president, Joe Biden” shouted another protester through a megaphone. Several other chants including “We will not comply” and “No vaccine mandate” were also heard as someone held a sign reading, “Don’t step on my liberty.” Eventually, a protester burned the flag of the United States.


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Since the man tried to defame the dignity of the nation after trying to set the American flag on fire he was soon arrested for his disrespectful act. The incident occurred Thursday, February 3, around 4 pm and Breaking News tweeted an image of the unnamed man, who was dressed in a bright neon jacket, being surrounded by a number of NYPD uniformed officers. The tweet also had an image of the flag that he purportedly tried to set alight. The flag appeared to have a hole and torch mark in it from where the man allegedly attempted to burn it.



The 62-year-old man was taken to the 7th Precinct where he was given a summons and released. Biden, along with US Attorney General Merrick Garland and members of Congress came to One Police Plaza to meet with Mayor Eric Adams, Governor Kathy Hochul and NYPD Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell.


The leaders met to discuss illegal guns and violence in the city just days after the funerals of NYPD officers Mora and Rivera who died during a shootout in Harlem. In his speech, Biden said he and the state’s leaders were on the same side when it comes to fighting gun violence in NYC.

 President Joe Biden delivers an opening statement during a news conference in the East Room of the White House on January 19, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Is it illegal to burn the American flag?

Several Supreme Court opinions have attempted to define "free speech". Essentially, it stated that "speech" is more than just talking and writing. According to the court, the First Amendment applies to symbolic expressions, such as burning flags, burning crosses, wearing armbands, and so forth. So, burning an American flag is not in itself illegal. The US Supreme Court held in the 1989 landmark decision of Texas v Johnson that flag burning was protected under the First Amendment as a form of freedom of speech. In Texas v. Johnson, the court ruled that the First Amendment protects burning the flag because the act falls within “expressive conduct.” Defendant, Gregory Johnson, burned the flag to protest the policies of then-President Ronald Reagan. He was arrested for violating a Texas law that made flag desecration a felony. This decision also struck down national flag desecration laws that existed in 48 states. Despite multiple Congressional efforts to overturn this ruling through proposed amendments, flag burning has been indisputably legal ever since.

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