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Central Illinois man files lawsuit over flag burning arrest

United States Flag at half mast (or rising) back-lit by the sun on a bright sunny day with blue sky. At Ft Sumter.

CHICAGO (AP) – A central Illinois man arrested after posting pictures of himself burning an American flag is suing in federal court to have the state’s flag desecration law declared unconstitutional.

Such state laws are already invalid after U.S. Supreme Court rulings that flag burning and other forms of damage are constitutionally protected free speech. However, dozens of states still have the laws.

Bryton Mellott of Urbana was arrested last July Fourth. He says he burned a flag to protest racial discrimination, among other things, and posted pictures to Facebook. Officers arrested and detained him. He wasn’t charged.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois is representing Mellott and plans a Thursday news conference.

The suit filed late Wednesday names police. They’ve argued that Mellott was detained to ensure his personal safety.