MILWAUKEE -- Hundreds of people ventured in downtown Milwaukee Tuesday evening to protest causes of all kinds -- everything from minimum wage to immigration.
During their march from Milwaukee's City Hall, some protesters set an American flag on fire -- which was immediately extinguished by officers from the Milwaukee Police Department.
In the aftermath of that incident, Milwaukee police ceremoniously folded the damaged flag.
Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn, speaking at a Veterans Day ceremony on Wednesday, said the person who set fire to the flag has been identified by authorities. Flynn indicated the flag which officers folded after the fact was placed on inventory as evidence in the event charges are filed in this case. The chief said the suspect "interestingly has a prior arrest for arson."
The following statements were issued in response to the burning of the flag:
Joint statement from Aldermen Bob Donovan, Mark A. Borkowski, Joe Davis, Sr., Michael J. Murphy, Terry L. Witkowski and Robert W. Puente
Last evening – on the eve of Veterans Day – Milwaukee Police Officers rescued our nation’s flag from a group of protesters who were desecrating it and preparing to burn it.
The officers rightfully picked up the flag from the ground and folded it, showing the appropriate level of respect our flag deserves. The outrageous actions of the protesters deserve an apt description, and the only word that comes to mind is “shameful.”
To us and to millions of Americans, the flag is our highest symbol of honor and freedom, and a sacred one that has been secured at great cost. Very simply, the flag represents the greatest nation ever formed on the face of this earth.
Although the protesters have every right to exercise their First Amendment rights in order to express their opinion (including burning the flag), we also have the right to use our First Amendment rights to clearly express our opinion about their actions.
We commend the officers, and God bless them for doing the right thing.
St. Senator Van Wanggaard (R)
“On the eve of Veteran’s Day and the 240th Anniversary of the Marine Corps, at a time when Milwaukee and Wisconsin should be celebrating our country for being at the epicenter of our democratic process, protestors chose to disrespect the very symbol of that democracy.
“It is reprehensible that any elected official would encourage this behavior by proudly posting pictures of the flag being trampled upon. The protestors and the elected officials that condone their actions should be ashamed of what they did. While the protestors may have been within their rights to trample on and burn the flag, that does not excuse their actions. They showed their disdain for our country, our rule of law, and the brave men and women who have fought and died for their rights.
“I want to thank the Milwaukee police officers who intervened, and treated the flag with the respect and reverence it deserves. “