State News

Prosecutor: No state charges for teacher who stepped on flag

Posted September 21

Lee Francis

— A North Carolina district attorney says he won't prosecute a high school teacher for stepping on an American flag during a lesson on the First Amendment.

Cumberland County district attorney Billy West told The Fayetteville Observer on Wednesday (http://bit.ly/2dkb0rf ) that the state's misdemeanor flag-desecration charges are unenforceable because a 1989 U.S. Supreme Court ruling protects such actions.

Massey High Classical High School teacher Lee Francis says Monday's history lesson was about that case, which determined flag-burning is a form of protected speech. Francis was put on paid administrative leave Tuesday.

News outlets have quoted students as saying that Francis asked for a lighter or scissors, and when no one produced them, he put the flag on the floor and stomped on it.

Francis says he stepped on the flag several times with his right foot.

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This story has been corrected to reflect that the incident happened in North Carolina, not South Carolina.

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Information from: The Fayetteville Observer

9 Comments

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  • Bo Hart Sep 22, 5:38 p.m.
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    no child of mine will set under his indoctrination

  • Raleigh Rose Sep 22, 1:53 p.m.
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    Sean, while many of us found it personally offensive, myself included, we can also see that it is his right to do what he did. I don't like it, but I will support his right to his free speech. We live in a society that isn't always easy and acknowledging that while you may not agree with what someone said but supporting their right to say whatever they did, is part of all of us protecting OUR rights. What is wrong with America is not supporting another's rights when you just don't agree with them. I hope you can see the difference. But again, I don't support what this teacher did, but I support his right to do so.

  • Lance Boyle Sep 22, 12:05 p.m.
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    For some of us, maybe it is easier to just live our lives without much thought. Eat, sleep, work.. Repeat. Done

  • Chris VanderHaven Sep 22, 11:17 a.m.
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    He's fine to do it, legally. I would simply take my kids out of his class, and ask any other like-minded parents to do the same. He's entitled to his opinion. So am I.

  • Howard Roark Sep 22, 10:31 a.m.
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    Actually it's not. The Supreme Court ruled that it's free speech almost 30 years ago.

    http://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/educational-activities/facts-and-case-summary-texas-v-johnson

  • Brenda Love Sep 22, 10:18 a.m.
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    Actually it is against the law. "In 1968, Congress approved the Federal Flag Desecration Law after a Vietnam War protest. The law made it illegal to “knowingly” cast “contempt” upon “any flag of the United States by publicly mutilating, defacing, defiling, burning or trampling upon it.” "

  • Howard Roark Sep 22, 8:41 a.m.
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    Although I don't agree with him stomping on the flag, I'd say all the attention this received only proved his point. He didn't break any laws. He can do whatever he wants to the flag without fear of reprisal from his government.

    He's not protected from the spew of hate coming from people like you, but that's what makes us America.

  • Lance Boyle Sep 22, 8:01 a.m.
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    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” Twain

  • Sean Creasy Sep 22, 7:31 a.m.
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    This arrogant individual has no business teach our next generation anything!! Using his position as an educator to promote his personal agenda and political views is totally unacceptable...