Published November 20, 2015
Some members of the Occupy Wall Street group in Charlotte, N.C., are under fire for setting American flags ablaze, but one of the protesters is defending his incendiary actions.
"Those were actions taken on my behalf," Occupy Charlotte member Alex Tyler said at a camp meeting, according to a Charlotte Observer report. "I did it to display my utter contempt for American greed, not (the military)."
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have charged Tyler and three other men with arson and setting fire to woods in the area of tents that previously housed members of the local Occupy movement. A police report says the men caused the fire by burning two American flags.
In addition to Tyler, 28-year-old Jason Bargert; 23-year-old Michael Behrle and 20-year-old Stephen Morris were charged.
Bargert has been listed on Occupy Charlotte press releases as a spokesman for the group. But Occupy Charlotte released a statement to WCNC-TV saying the group is no long affiliated with the camp where the fire broke out. It also says the burning of the flag doesn't reflect its members or its message.
The Charlotte Observer reported that some members condemned the acts as "hideous," "shocking" and "disrespectful."
Tyler said late Friday that he regrets any trouble the flag-burning protest may have brought to the movement, the newspaper reported, but he stands by the protest.
"I've seen this group lose its activism and become lazy," Tyler said, adding that he and the other men wanted to "give Occupy Charlotte a wake-up call."
Burning a flag is not illegal, but local police say the protest violated the law because a fire pit wasn't used.
It perhaps is no surprise that the four men's actions caught the attention of police, whose headquarters reportedly is only a few hundred feet from the protest site.
The Associated Press contributed to this repot.