Man arrested after burning American flag in Walmart parking lot

A Virginia man was arrested after burning an American flag in a Walmart parking lot on the Fourth of July, investigators said. (Photo: Screengrab via York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office)
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A Virginia man was arrested after burning an American flag in a Walmart parking lot on the Fourth of July, investigators said. (Photo: Screengrab via York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office)

A Virginia man was arrested after burning an American flag in a Walmart parking lot on the Fourth of July, investigators said.

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"He was not arrested for his First Amendment Right to burn the flag but for burning an object in a public place with the intent to intimidate," the York-Poquoson Sheriff's Office said on Facebook.

Video shows Mitchell Lee Stauffer removing an American flag from his trunk, throwing it to the ground and dousing it in gasoline before setting it on fire. Stauffer shouted obscenities at a crowd that had gathered before driving off.

Stauffer was arrested and charged with burning an object in a public place with the intent to intimidate, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

"The burning of our great American Flag is very offensive to most people including me," Sheriff J.D. Diggs said in a statement. "That being said, the courts have ruled that act alone is an expression of free speech and not per se illegal. This charge is appropriate under the Code of Virginia. It is fortunate that no one was injured today."