LAFAYETTE, La. — According to news reports, a man was arrested in Lafayette yesterday and charged with 'flag desecration.' Charri Mohamad was charged under LA Rev Stat § 14:116 following complaints from a local business, whose security cameras recorded footage appearing to show Mohamad burning an American flag, and tearing up another.
It is not a crime to destroy or damage the flag. The U.S Supreme Court struck down a federal flag protection law in 1990 (United States v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310), and reaffirmed the First Amendment right to burn or otherwise destroy the flag a year later in Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1991). Louisiana's 'flag desecration' statute was invalidated by the Texas v. Johnsondecision, as were similar laws in 47 other states.
While Mohamad's actions may seem distasteful to some, they are not illegal. No one should be arrested for exercising their First Amendment rights. We call on 15th Judicial District Attorney Keith Stutes to drop the flag desecration charge against Mohamad, and for the Lafayette Police to halt enforcement of an illegal statute.