Texas doesn’t like you to burn its flag or Uncle Sam’s — disincentives run up to $4,000 and a year in jail. But the Supreme Court in Texas v. Johnson ruled that if you’re lighting up Old Glory to make a statement, you’re protected by the Constitution. Well, what about foreign flags?
David Bohmfalk was cited in May 2007 for illegally burning rubbish — rubbish which just happened to be our southern neighbors’ tricolor bandera — in front of the Alamo to protest legislation that would have granted undocumented workers amnesty.
Bohmfalk was detained by police officers and, says lawyer Jason Jakob, treated poorly. “He was spit on. Some tourist made death threats, and the police did not do anything except say ‘Move along,’” Jakob said. “`The officers` stated that he violated several state and federal laws, `but` none of those charges wound up sticking.”
Bohmfalk is suing the City of San Antonio, two Park Rangers and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas for violating his First Amendment rights, claiming false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and defamation.
“One cannot miss the irony of such an appalling lack of constitutional protection at a location so known for a person’s right to defend its land from others,” stated Bohmfalk’s original petition.
“Under the First Amendment,” Jakob said, “he had every right to burn the flag.”