US President Donald Trump has reiterated calls for a law that will ban the burning of the American flag – an act which is now protected as free speech – after Black Lives Matter protesters have repeatedly torched the flag.
“We ought to come up with legislation that if you burn the American flag you go to jail for one year,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma – his first ‘Make America Great Again’ rally in three months – on Saturday.
Doubling down on his previous calls to make acts of desecrating the flag, including by setting it on fire, a punishable offense, Trump sought support from the two GOP senators from Oklahoma, Jim Inhofe and James Lankford, who were also in attendance at the rally.
Ever since becoming president, Trump has repeatedly argued that flag-burning should not be protected by the First Amendment.
We ought to do it. We talk about freedom of speech… but that’s desecration.
Shortly after being elected in 2016, Trump suggested that those who burn the American flag should face harsh penalties, which could include one year in jail or even loss of citizenship.
This renewed push from Trump comes amid Black Lives Matter protests which have been raging across the US since unarmed black man George Floyd died in police custody in Minnesota on May 25.
Recently, the protests have increasingly seen activists embracing vandalism in the name of racial justice. With little or no interference from police, activists have already toppled an array of Confederate statues and burned US flags.
However, while vandalism is still technically illegal, burning the American flag has not been since 1989, when the Supreme Court ruled that it is a form of “symbolic speech” protected by the Constitution.
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