A FedEx driver in Iowa City, Iowa simply could not sit idly by when he saw a group of protesters setting fire to an American flag on the city’s cold streets yesterday afternoon.
The man, identified as Matt Uhrin, leaped from his truck with a fire extinguisher, put out the fire, and took one of the flags.
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Uhrin then tried to take a second flag from the protesters, but he wasn’t successful. However, he was able to use his fire extinguisher to prevent the protesters from burning it.
During that altercation, Uhrin got into a physical altercation with a couple of the protesters. He sprayed one with the first extinguisher and pushed one person off of him.
Several bystanders seemed to be in support of Uhrin’s actions and voiced verbal support.
According to a USA Today report:
Still, the actions caused a scene on the pedestrian mall across from the Old Capitol Mall, as onlookers shouted and a man in a FedEx uniform, Matt Uhrin, rushed out with a fire extinguisher to put out the blaze. Uhrin took one of the flags from protesters, scuffling with a number of protesters in the process.
Uhrin declined to comment except to say his actions were not related to his employer.
One onlooker, Bob Guyer, said the act was disrespectful to military veterans.
“Probably every one of them has a relative at one point or another that died for that,” Guyer said, referring to the flag. “That’s not free speech. Too many people have died for it,” he said.
Burning the flag is against the United States Flag Code. However, the Supreme Court found that the code section was unconstitutional and ruled that burning the American flag was protected free speech.
While the act of burning the flag is protected free speech, two members of the protest still found themselves facing charges when police showed up. Paul Ogersby and Kelli Ebensberger were both charged with violating Iowa City’s public burn ordinance since they did not obtain the proper permits for burning in public.
They could face up to a $625 fine and possibly, but unlikely, thirty days in jail.