Flag burning at Occupy Charlotte creates divide among members

The burning of American flags by members of the Occupy Charlotte encampment has drawn sharp criticism of the group, but has also sowed division among its members.

Some protesters have vowed to leave the camp if the flag-burners are not ousted from the group, while others have vowed to leave if they are.

Four men were, including two who were members of the Occupy group, were arrested after burning two U.S. flags at the North Carolina encampment Friday afternoon, the Charlotte Observer reported.

Burning the flag is not illegal, but authorities arrested them for careless use of a fire because they did not use a fire pit, a misdemeanor charge. All four were released after posting bond.

Alex Tyler, 19, one of the men arrested in the flag burning, spoke to the group during a meeting late Friday, telling them that although he is sorry for the adverse effects his actions may have on the movement, he is not sorry for having burned the flag.

"Those were actions taken on my own behalf," Alex Tyler said at the meeting, according to the Charlotte Observer. Tyler said he burned the flag to display contempt for American greed and not the military.

At the meeting, the group discussed consequences for both the flag-burners and a small sect of members who issued a news release denouncing the burning without first clearing it with the whole assembly, according to the group’s website.

Half of the group threatened to leave the camp if those who burned the flag were not kicked out, while the other half threatened to leave if they were kicked out.

The group planned on discussing the issue at a meeting Saturday.

Some people took to the group’s Facebook page to denounce the flag burning.

“You people have chosen a extremely poor way to represent your feelings,” commented Jason Hathaway. “I hope that you understand that by burning our nation's flag, you have spit in the face of the military and the families of the military that fight for you and the freedoms that you all take for granted.”

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--Stephen Ceasar

 
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Rene Lynch has been an editor and writer in Metro, Sports, Business, Calendar and Food. @ReneLynch

As an editor and reporter, Michael Muskal has covered local, national, economic and foreign issues at three newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. @latimesmuskal


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