ST. LOUIS (CN) – A man who was arrested for “desecrating the flag” wants Missouri’s flag desecration law declared unconstitutional, and punitive damages from Cape Girardeau and the cop who arrested him. Frank Snider III says he shredded a flag and tossed it onto his lawn to protest the denial of his disability claim under Social Security.
“To express his disagreement with the government,” Snider says, he “took to his front yard and attempted to burn a United States Flag.”
This was on Oct. 20, 2009.
“When the attempt to light the flag was unsuccessful, plaintiff instead expressed his message by shredding the flag with a knife and throwing it to the ground.
“A neighbor called the police to complain.
“Defendant [Officer Matthew] Peters responded to the scene, picked the flag up from the ground, and questioned plaintiff about the flag.
“Plaintiff explained to defendant Peters that he had torn the flag and thrown it to the ground after being unsuccessful in burning it. He further explained that his purpose in doing so was to express his anger at the United States and its interference in his efforts to obtain employment.
“On October 23, 2009, Plaintiff was arrested on a charge of desecrating the flag in violation of Mo. Rev. Stat. § 578.095 based on the events of October 20, 2009.”
Snider says the city failed to train its police officers about the Constitution. He seems particularly irked that “Almost immediately upon plaintiff’s arrest the police department of the City of Cape Girardeau issued a press release trumpeting plaintiff’s arrest for desecrating a flag.”
Snider claims the arrest deprived him of liberty and violated the First Amendment. He seeks nominal and punitive damages and wants the state law banning flag desecration declared unconstitutional.
He is represented by Anthony Rothert with the ACLU.