Flag burners sentenced

Original URL: http://www.timesreporter.com/index.php?ID=58116&r=0

Four New Philadelphia teens who admitted damaging U.S. flags at Tuscora Park in New Philadelphia earlier this summer have a lot of apologizing to do.

[names removed on request] learned Tuesday they will spend two days in a veterans’ hospital at Cleveland. They also must issue a public apology in November.

During a sentencing hearing Tuesday, Tuscarawas County Juvenile Court Judge Linda A. Kate commended the four for the apologies they’ve made so far – to city and park officials – but said it wasn’t enough.

“It’s one thing to make the apologies you’ve already made,” she said. “It’s another thing to look these veterans in the face and explain what you did and hear what they have to say.

“You also will appear at the Veterans Day services at the courthouse. By that time you will prepare a written apology, no less than 250 words. One of you will read it aloud.”

All four apologized for their actions and maintained there was no anti-American sentiment behind the stunt.

“We didn’t mean to be anti-American or anti-the flag,” Urban said. “It was just a prank we tried to see if we could get away with it. We didn’t think of it as a symbol.”

Kate was incredulous. She asked how else their actions could be viewed.

“It was so disrespectful to all of the men and women who have served our country,” she said. “You should have known. I have no doubt your parents taught you better than this. It shouldn’t have taken this to make you appreciative.”

Kate reminded the four how fortunate they are to live in the United States.

“Do you understand there are countries in the world where people are rounded up by the government and put in metal boxes to die in the desert?” she asked. “You don’t have to worry about that because of the hundreds of men and women who have been willing to put their lives on the line. You think so little of their sacrifice that you would do this to amuse yourself?”

Kate then introduced Larry Clawson, a local Vietnam War veteran who is employed at the county veterans’ services office. He spoke briefly to the boys.

“My father fought in World War II, and I spent a year in Vietnam,” he said. “My son just spent seven months in Iraq. I get choked up when I talk about the flag. The three of us served under the flag. The flag and our country are one and the same.

“Fifty-eight thousand plus Vietnam veterans didn’t come back, and countless have died since then. What you did was a stupid mistake. I hope you learned a good lesson.”

New Philadelphia Police Chief Jeff Urban, father of Jaymes Urban, spoke on the quartet’s behalf, as did some of the other parents.

“These are four good boys,” he said. “All four have stayed out of trouble until this. All four made a serious error that they are well aware of. These boys have learned a valuable lesson.”

Kate suspended 10 days in the Multi-County Juvenile Attention Center for thee of them and 10 days in the county jail for one of them, who turned 18 since the incident. They also must complete 60 hours of community service, pay court costs and pay any restitution owed.

The four admitted two juvenile delinquency charges by reason of criminal trespass and criminal damaging stemming from the July 11 incident. Charges against a fifth teen, Mark T. Goodwin, 18, a brother of Nickalas Goodwin, are pending in New Philadelphia Municipal Court.

According to police, the teens stole two flags from the park, painted obscenities on them and burned them. They were spotted by a park officer when they returned to the park and hung one of the flags upside down on a flag pole.

I guess Americans really really really absolutely adore and love their flag… :rolleyes:


lol… if that happened here no-one would care… i mean its just a flag… its not like they were going around throwing petrol bombs at veterans cars

also… doesnt this go against freedom of speech?.. i mean if they wanted couldnt they just say america sucks if it is their own opinion?

Rather unfortunate that she mentioned that!

I agree. It is quite scary someone needs these kind of arguments to educate kids why they should not burn flags.

Yes, this reminds me of the old Disney movie “The Fuehrer’s Face”.

That was such a catchy tune!

Quite an appropriate sentence for such disrespect to a nation and those who died for freedom. I have several uncles still living that would have taken their shotguns out and solved the disrespect that way, as they are veterans and served in the harshest action in the Pacific theater in WWII.

The problem is that while “free speech” is protected and encouraged in the U.S., this kind of behavior should never be tolerated, as “free speech” such as screaming “fire” in a public setting like a theater is a crime, and as this could lead to other destruction from the same spirit of recklessness as the “fire” in the theater concept, they should be glad they got off with just apologies and community service at a V.A. hospital. I must commend the judge (Linda A. Kate) for having the guts to take the case and do something about it. The sad thing is that this practice should never have been allowed to be done in any way, and should have been prosecuted to this degree all along (this is one of the only cases I have ever heard of in the U.S.). There’s nothing like having to apologize for something you’ve done wrong to the very people you hurt and offended the most.

Flag burning is a form of protest … but it wasn’t a protest … it was just a joke and it does show a complete lack of respect for the flag & everything it stands for. If anything, it’s just a public nuisance.

They should be fined as such, and the apology to veterans is a good touch :wink:
I wonder whether they’ll be laughing about it later?

Really? lol