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Flag Burners and 'Pro-American' Protesters Square Off in Fort Greene Park

By  Janet Upadhye and Ben Fractenberg | July 2, 2015 8:50am 

 A group of bikers, military veterans and other New York City residents showed up to Fort Greene park to protest the burning of American flags Wednesday night, July 1, 2015. 
Anti-Flag Burning Protest
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FORT GREENE — A planned flag-burning demonstration was derailed Wednesday night when dozens of "pro-American" protesters showed up in Fort Greene Park to stop the event.

Activist group Disarm NYC asked people to bring American and Confederate flags to the park to burn in advance of the demonstration that was organized in response to a shooting that killed nine people in a Charleston church earlier this month.

The group planned to burn flags near the corner of Washington Park and Myrtle Avenue but changed the location at the last minute, witnesses said.

Instead the group burned two flags in a barbecue pit in front of the Prison Ship Martyr’s Monument — before nearly two dozen pro-flag protesters learned their whereabouts and showed up.

The protesters rushed to the monument, chanting "U.S.A, U.S.A, U.S.A."

John Carroll, a Queens resident, pulled a burning flag from the pit, knocking over one of the flag-burners in the process, he said.

“I pulled the flag out as the flag burned,” Carroll recounted.

Many of the pro-flag protesters were members of a Bay Ridge motorcycle club called the Hallowed Sons.

“Burn a flag and see what happens," said one biker, who had the name "Burnout" on his jacket. "Your head will burn."

But about an hour later, the confrontation was over and no arrests were made, according to police.

After the protest, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who represents Brooklyn and Staten Island, tweeted thanks to those who defended the flags.

"Thanks to all the patriots who came out last night to defend & support our beautiful American Flag!  #fortgreenepark," she tweeted.

But activist Victoria Phillips, who showed up to support the flag-burning demonstration, said the event was not meant to be unpatriotic, but a way of raising awareness to the racism that exists in America.
 
“I’m just as American as anybody,” she said. “[But] we still don’t have justice for black people.”