It seems that every administration in the White House has to deal with a protest in one manner or another during their presidency. Whether it be our objection to higher taxes, unemployment, war, inadequate health care, racial Injustice, or immigration issues protesters find their way into the mainstream media. One of the ways that citizens protest is to burn the American flag as a symbol to emphasize how they feel the elected officials and protectors of the land are letting them down. Flag burning has long been a matter of contention among many US citizens. This has been true for many years. During the Vietnam war protesters burned the flag in protest of the war. Some civil rights movements protestors have done the same thing to show their dissatisfaction with American policies not protect its people equally regardless of color, sex, or sexual orientation. The flag is a matter of personal pride to many Americans. We salute the flag at sports and national events. To burn the flag at a protest appears to dishonor what the country stands for as a whole, regardless of individual beliefs. We have always stood firm on the fact that we are stronger together united as a nation.

American flag flying in the wind

In recent events in the United States, flag burning has come under review with rallies by groups protesting some of the misactions of law enforcement and government representatives. People trying to immigrate to the United States from the southern border seeking protections were turned away and those that persisted were arrested. What happened to the land of the free and welcoming those in need? The incidents that led to the start of the Black Lives Matter Movement led to many protests throughout the country by people of all races. Most people agree that killing George Floyd was a blatant abuse of police power. The fact that law enforcement was allowed to kill a citizen while he was being detained caused a national outcry. The response to people’s protests and their reaction to burning the American flag as a message of their discontentment was not necessarily handled the best by those in authority, including President Donald Trump. The president’s response was not to address the issue but to try to take advantage of a newer Supreme Court and try to influence them to repeal previous decisions on not punishing flag burners.

The freedom to protest is guaranteed under the First Amendment of the Constitution. In previous attempts by the government to enforce punishment on those who burn the flag in protest of their discontentment with how the government is operating has been upheld repeatedly by the courts of this nation. Ignoring these rights given to us under the Constitution we hold so dearly, President Trump tried to influence Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) to back legislation implementing jail time to those who burn the flag in protest. The fact that he did this is a misuse of his public platform. The rights to assemble to protest are guaranteed in the Constitution and the right to burn an American flag in protest during a demonstration has been regularly upheld by the courts. To try and pass legislation to punish those who are simply using their rights granted by the laws of this country is simply wrong.