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Activists Invite You to Bring Your Own Flag to Burn at Charleston Protest

By Janet Upadhye | June 29, 2015 12:21pm
 Activist group Disarm NYPD is organizing an American flag burning event Wednesday, July 1.
Activist group Disarm NYPD is organizing an American flag burning event Wednesday, July 1.
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Flickr Creative Commons/Big Bob Burns

FORT GREENE — An activist group is planning to burn American flags in Fort Greene Park in response to the shooting deaths of nine church-goers in Charleston earlier this month — and they're asking attendees to bring their own flags to burn.

The group Disarm NYPD — which is planned for July 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the corner of Washington Park and Myrtle Avenue in Fort Greene Park — said the American flag represents the same history as the Confederate flag, which has been at the center of debate since the June 17 shootings.

"The Confederate flag has long been a symbol of white supremacy, slavery, and Jim Crow," the group wrote on a Facebook page for the event. "However, the Confederacy lost the war the American flag has unceasingly, from the first day it was ever hung, represented the exact same thing."

More than 250 people had RSVP'd to the event as of Monday morning. Organizers will bring one flag to burn, but they are also asking attendees to bring their own, including Confederate flags.

Disarm NYPD member Carlos Cadeza called the killings a "vivid example of white supremacy" and said the group is burning the flag to "stop the spread of racism in this country." The accused Charleston shooter, Dylann Roof, 21, reportedly has ties to white supremacist groups.

Cadeza said he is aware that flag burning will offend some people and that members of the group run the risk of getting arrested.

"Of course some people will be offended, but we want them to know we are not against American culture as a whole, just the racism that is embedded in so many parts of our culture," he told DNAinfo New York.

"And we always run the risk of getting arrested, but that's what we risk to speak out against oppression."

In 1969, the Supreme Court ruled that burning the flag is protected by the First Amendment.

It is against New York City parks rules to "kindle, build, maintain, or use a fire in any place, portable receptacle, or grill except in places provided by the Department and so designated by sign or by special permit," according to the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation's website.

Neither the NYPD nor Parks Department immediately responded to requests for comment.

Disarm NYC was formed in response to the killing of Eric Garner by an NYPD officer last year.