Burning American Flags is Free Speech; Burning Gay Pride flags is a Hate Crime

“Individuals across America are being charged – and convicted – with hate crimes for burning the rainbow flag”

Individuals across America are being charged – and convicted – with hate crimes for burning the rainbow flag, which represents gay pride. While burning a gay pride flag is a hate crime, burning an American flag is free speech.

In fact, the burning of an American flag may even be quite lucrative, as in the case of Revolutionary Communist Party member Gregory L. Johnson, who received a $225,000 settlement from the city of Cleveland in June after he successfully argued that police officers violated his First Amendment rights by using fire extinguishers to put out an American flag he was burning outside the Republican National Convention in 2016 in protest of “American imperialism and inequality”.

Adolfo Martinez

Earlier this month, Adolfo Martinez was convicted of a hate crime in Ames, Iowa for “tearing down and burning a Pride flag that was hanging at a local church.” While Martinez was properly charged and convicted of “third-degree harassment, reckless use of fire, and being a habitual offender,” the hate crime enhancement for burning a flag is dangerous. If everything else was equal, and Martinez burned an American flag hanging at a church instead of a pride flag, he would have received different charges and very likely a lesser sentence.

Martinez was not at all apologetic, and he said he would do it again. His hatred is obvious, just as is the hatred for America that many display when they burn the American flag. But those who burn the American flag are covered by the First Amendment to the Constitution, and rightfully so.

Daniel Jonathon Rosemark

Also in Iowa, Daniel Jonathon Rosemark from Des Moines is a homeless man with a long arrest record who reportedly burned the Blazing Saddle bar’s gay pride flag. Rosemark “has been charged with fifth-degree criminal mischief in violation of individual rights — hate crime, a serious misdemeanor, and reckless use of fire or explosive, an aggravated misdemeanor,” according to the Des Moines Register about a week ago.

The report continued:

Court records show that Rosemark has recently had multiple interactions with metro police. He was fined after pleading guilty Oct. 11 to trespassing at a Kum & Go. Less than a week later, on Oct. 17, he was cited for public intoxication in West Des Moines and was sentenced to three days in jail.

Rosemark was arrested by Des Moines police on Oct. 28 for threatening to kill a man who was with his family, according to a criminal complaint. It’s unclear what led up to the interaction, and Rosemark was sentenced to a day in jail for disorderly conduct.

Rosemark is also unsurprisingly facing a drug possession charge.

Zach and Micala Gingrich-Gaylord

Zach and Micala Gingrich-Gaylord received national attention in September when their gay pride flag was “just melted down into a plastic mess”. According to a breathless report at NBC News, “authorities are now investigating the incident as a hate crime.” The author of the report, Quinn Gawronski, reports that Thomas Witt, executive director of LGBTQ rights group Equality Kansas, declared that the flag burning was part of “a campaign to terrorize the LGBTQ community.”

There is something fishy about this story, from a perspective of someone who has long reported on hate crime hoaxes.

Tyresse Singleton

In July, Tyresse Singleton was reportedly “facing hate crime and arson charges for allegedly burning two rainbow flags displayed outside Alibi Lounge on May 31…” Also unapologetic, Singleton was clear that he is not a fan of gay Americans, just as those who burn the American flag hate America.

Watch a local report:

Cameron Mayfield

Cameron Mayfield was 23 when he burned a gay pride flag belonging to his neighbors in Omaha, Nebraska. In this case, the perpetrator was apologetic, saying “I have gay friends and I apologize to my neighbors.” Officers testified that upon his arrest, “Mayfield said he didn’t understand how burning a flag could be a felony.” According to reports, he believed he was burning a windsock, and did not understand the significance of the gay pride flag.

From a local article about the case:

Further investigation revealed Mayfield’s father told police his son had been drinking the night before the incident.

“My client wants to apologize for the foolish stunt he committed on March 1,” said James Martin Davis, Mayfield’s lawyer. “He was intoxicated.”

After Wednesday’s hearing, Mayfield apologized for his actions.

“It was a prank,” Mayfield said. “I’m sorry for the confusion. I don’t hate anybody or anything.”

Mayfield was convicted of a hate crime.

The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution (Section One)

This clear hypocritical application of charges is an obvious illustration of how the constitutional requirement of “equal protection of the laws” is heavily distorted by so-called hate crime enhancements.

Please read section one of the Fourteenth Amendment and consider whether the “hate crime” designation qualifies as “equal protection of the laws”:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

The very concept of “hate crime” is unconstitutional. So-called “hate crime” laws are not applied consistently, are focused on the perceived thoughts of the criminal committing the crime, and are used as a political weapon.


Renee Nal

Renee Nal is an investigative journalist and documentary film producer.


  • The big detail you are missing is they are burning other peoples pride flags witch in itself is a crime no matter what flag it was. Now if they are to burn there own pride flags that would be freedom of speech not a crime.

    • Perhaps you did not read the article? “While Martinez was properly charged and convicted of “third-degree harassment, reckless use of fire, and being a habitual offender,” the hate crime enhancement for burning a flag is dangerous.”

  • Burning a rainbow “gay flag” certainly sounds like free speech to me. I have a couple of gay friends. Their lifestyle may be their free choice, but it is against my religious beliefs, and I have no objection to someone burning a gay flag.


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