A FedEx driver intervened twice to prevent the American Flag from being burned by anti-Donald Trump protesters on a street corner.
The incident, which was captured on video by a local journalist, occurred yesterday in Iowa City, Iowa, and then uploaded to social media.
[See Update below]
The one-and-a-half minute video starts when the driver, armed with a fire extinguisher, has evidently already saved one flag from the flames, and then wades back into the group to save Old Glory a second time with the fire extinguisher.
A brief scuffle occurs, and one of the demonstrators tries to reclaim the first flag and appears to get a face full of the fire-squelching stream in the process.
A bystander among the small group of protesters tells the group that “I’m with this guy,” apparently in support of the patriotic FedEx driver.
“That’s not freedom, that’s treason, man…the clothes you have on your back was provided [by] that flag…I don’t agree with Trump, but this s**t is not how you unite a country,” the bystander adds.
See clip embedded below.
Happening now: a confrontation on the ped mall as people burn an American flag as protest. pic.twitter.com/aPkMdls6oQ
— Stephen GruberMiller (@sgrubermiller) January 26, 2017
According to the Iowa City Press-Citizen, FedEx released a statement today about the incident that took place at Iowa City’s Old Capitol Mall.
“FedEx has reviewed the facts of the incident and interviewed our courier to better understand what took place. As with all personnel issues, we are handling the matter internally.”
The Press-Citizen identified the driver as Matt Uhrin. “Uhrin could not be reached for comment Friday. At the protest on Thursday, he also declined to comment except to say that his actions were not related to his employer.”
CBS Des Moines affiliate KCCI reported that the demonstrators insist they are not anti-veteran but had assembled to protest various aspects of the Republican agenda.
Under a 1989 Supreme Court decision, flag burning is considered a from of freedom of speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but two of the protesters were arrested for allegedly violating the city’s public burn ordinance, which requires individuals to first obtain a permit to burn a flag.
If found guilty of the misdemeanor in a court of law, a violator of the municipal ordinance reportedly could receive up to a month in jail and a maximum fine of $625. The two men are due back in court on February 23.
A group was out on the ped mall this afternoon burning flags in protest. FedEx driver jumped in to extinguish them. pic.twitter.com/ElW01BrIfu
— David Scrivner (@davidscrivner) January 26, 2017
“Iowa has a law on the books that makes it illegal to defile, cast contempt upon, satirize or deride a flag. That law, however, was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge in December 2014 and state prosecutors were told not to enforce it,” the Press-Citizen recalled.
In late November, President Trump tweeted that flag burning should be met with consequences to possibly include a year behind bars or loss of citizenship.
— Stephen GruberMiller (@sgrubermiller) January 27, 2017
“The national debate over people burning the American flag is one that never seems to end. Americans are fundamentally divided over the issue — one side believes it’s a part of freedom of expression, the other sees it as the ultimate sign of disrespect,” the Independent Journal Review commented in response to the Iowa flag burning incident and the FedEx driver’s intervention.
Cops say that after investigating, they expect no additional charges to be filed against anyone else involved in the confrontation, the Little Village website indicated.
He's a silent guardian,
a watchful protector,
a FedEx Guy. pic.twitter.com/atOS9mAwBk
— Trent (@BarstoolTrent) January 26, 2017
One of the protesters told NBC Waterloo, Iowa, affiliate KWWL that the American flag comes with “baggage” that includes “centuries of genocide against Native Americans, centuries of racial slavery against African Americans.”
FedEx driver Matt Uhrin told the same TV station that ” he is humbled by the words of support he has received for trying to stop the flag burning.”
[Featured Image by Wilfredo Lee/AP Images]
Update: The FedEx driver apparently will not be disciplined, per this tweet from the package delivery company.
We have reviewed the matter in Iowa City involving driver Matt Uhrin. He remains a FedEx employee & we have no plans to change his status.
— FedEx (@FedEx) January 28, 2017