Man Arrested After Setting American Flag on Fire at Virginia Walmart

July 5, 2019 Updated: July 5, 2019

Warning: A video showing the incident might be offensive to some people.

A Virginia man was arrested on July 4 after burning an American flag and setting it on fire in a Walmart parking lot.

The York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office posted a video on Facebook, saying Mitchell Lee Stauffer was arrested “for burning an object in a public place with the intent to intimidate.”

Stauffer is accused of going to the Walmart in the 2600 Block of George Washington Memorial Highway, throwing an American Flag on the ground, dousing it in gas, setting it on fire, and driving off.

“He was yelling while doing so which made bystanders very nervous,” the sheriff’s office wrote.

The office said he was not arrested for his “First Amendment right to burn the flag.” It said that he was arrested for burning an object in a public place with the intent to intimidate.

Sheriff Diggs said in the post: “The burning of our great American Flag is very offensive to most people including me. 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.”

Other details about the case are not clear.

More Arrested

The U.S. Secret Service says two people were arrested during a Fourth of July flag-burning incident on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.

The arrests were made about one hour before President Donald Trump paid tribute to the U.S. military during a speech at the Lincoln Memorial, according to a statement by the Secret Service on Twitter.

The Secret Service said that one person was arrested for felony assault on a police officer and malicious burning, and the other was arrested for hindering a police investigation and resisting arrest.

Two uniformed Secret Service officers suffered minor injuries while attempting to make the arrests. They were transported to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries. One of those who were arrested was also transported to the hospital.

The Secret Service says the burning occurred beyond the limits of a permit issued by the National Park Service.

According to reports, leftist protesters outside the White House had set fire to the flag. The incident eventually culminated in the two arrests.

The protest, which turned into a violent clash, took place just blocks from crowds who had gathered to watch Trump’s July Fourth speech and fireworks displays on the National Mall.

Led by radical activist Joey Johnson, a group from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, linked arms and set an American flag on fire outside as they chanted, “America was never great.”

The Secret Service intervened quickly to extinguish the fire.

Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.