ALLEGHENY TOWNSHIP, PA — Police arrested and charged a man with a crime because he hung an American flag upside down on his own property.
Joshuaa Brubaker, of Duncansville, says he is passionate about his Native American heritage and the American Indian Movement (AIM). He grew upset when the site of one of the most infamous massacres in U.S. history has been put up for commercial sale.
“I found that Wounded Knee is up for sale, not only privately but commercially,” Brubaker said to WJACTV. He made his displeasure known by flipping over his American flag and painting “AIM” on it.
In 1890, during the height of the American Indian “relocation” effort, U.S. troops disarmed the Lakota people en masse “for their own safety and protection” as they were corralled into their new home. When a deaf Lakota man refused to surrender his rifle to the federal soldiers, most of the tribe was slaughtered. The event is known as the Wounded Knee Massacre, and is still memorialized today.
Brubaker’s protest was peaceful and did not infringe on the property rights of anyone else. However, the same could not be said about those who reacted to his protest — offended that he was not waving his flag in a manner deemed proper by the state.
The Allegheny Township Police Department intruded on Brubaker’s property and forcibly took down the flag. Mr. Brubaker was charged with ‘defiling’ an American flag.
Allegheny Township Assistant Police Chief L.J. Berg said justified the arrest because he and others were offended. “People have made too many sacrifices to protect the flag and to leave this happen in my community,” said Berg. “I’m not happy with that.”
A person is guilty of a misdemeanor … if, in any manner, he:
(1) for exhibition or display places any marks, writing or design of any nature … upon any flag;
(2) exposes to public view any such marked or defiled flag; …
A person is guilty of a misdemeanor … if he maliciously takes down, defiles, injures, removes or in any manner damages, insults, or destroys any American flag or the flag of the Commonwealth which is displayed anywhere.
“It’s just not right and simply because I express myself in a way that somebody else doesn’t like or agree with doesn’t mean I should be persecuted for having beliefs,” said Brubaker.
He added: “If I don’t have a right to fly that flag upside down, which means a sign of distress, which this country is in so much distress right now, then what’s the point of having it?”
Unfortunately, Americans seem to have lost all concept of the freedoms which the flag was supposed to represent; including the right to private property and the right to peaceful expression.
If ardent flag-wavers spent half as much effort protecting our rights as they do enforcing mandatory veneration for the flag, the freedoms which we sing songs about might actually still exist.
Allegheny Township Police Department