A military veteran was reportedly detained and charged by Valdosta State University police in Georgia Friday after she took an American flag from a group of protesters who were walking on it.
The Valdosta Daily Times reports Michelle Manhart, an Air Force veteran, said she wanted to take action after hearing about the group’s demonstrations, but did not want to take the flag from them.
“I did not want anything like this, but I got a call from a student who told me that the flag was on the ground, and they were walking on it,” Manhart told the Daily Times. “I was just going over there to pick up the flag off the ground. I don’t know what their cause is, but I went to pick it up because it doesn’t deserve to be on the ground.”
Manhart said she was taken into custody by campus police who then returned the flag to the demonstrators. Manhart did admit to the paper she was resisting arrest.
The group declined to press charges. The officers who detained her did not press charges either for resisting arrest.
However, Valdosta State police gave Manhart a criminal trespassing warning, which bans her from any university activity, including graduation and foot games, the school’s vice president for enrollment, marketing and communications Andy Clark told the paper.
A VSU student told the paper that a demonstrator said putting the flag on the ground and walking on it was “a symbol of our protest. When a slave understands his situation and understands he doesn’t want to be in slavery, he does not respect or revere anything his slavemaster has put in front of him.”
Manhart said if the cause was racism, then she would have agreed with the cause but opposed the method of which the demonstrators were protesting.
Manhart hopes for an apology from the group and to obtain the flag so it could be disposed of properly.