Illinois flag burner will not be charged
The law allows for prosecution of individuals who publicly mutilate or deface a flag.
Supreme Court ruling
However, Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz said charges would not be filed against Mellott because the Illinois flag desecration statute was contradictory to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that deemed flag burning protected by the First Amendment.
The ruling, Texas v. Johnson, came after a Texas court’s conviction of Gregory Lee Johnson, who burned an American flag outside the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas in a protest against President Ronald Reagan.
The Supreme Court overturned the Texas court’s ruling, saying flag burning constituted “symbolic speech.”
Mellott’s Facebook posts
Writing on his Facebook page, Mellott said he believes “blind nationalism is a corrosive thing.”
“If you have pride then that’s fine, but I don’t. This is me, not having pride. Not attacking others who disagree. Someday I hope that changes. But that change starts with recognizing that there are problems; fundamental problems that very much stem from nationalistic attitudes,” he added.
Urbana police said they respected the decision not to proceed with filing charges. The Rietz’s office said it would ask Illinois legislators to consider reviewing the state’s flag desecration law “given the constitutional issues it presents.”
By Donie O’Sullivan, CNN