Michelle Manhart, a United States Air Force veteran and former Playboy model, was detained on Friday, April 17 for taking the U.S. flag away from a group of African-Americans, protesting racism, who were trampling on it.
The protest took place at Valdosta State University. Manhart said she made several complaints to the university after she heard about the demonstrators plans. When they did nothing, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She walked up to the group, took the flag, and simply walked away. That is when things started escalating. Manhart’s daughter caught the whole incident on video.
“I did not want anything like this, but I got a call from a student who told me that the flag was on the ground, and they were walking on it,” Manhart told the Valdosta Daily Times. “I was just going over there to pick up the flag off the ground. I don’t know what their cause is, but I went to pick it up because it doesn’t deserve to be on the ground.”
“They had thrown it on the ground, they were walking on it, kicking it, you know making different motions against the flag itself,” Manhart added.
Michelle was taken into custody by the VSU police, who then returned the flag to the demonstrators. She admits that she resisted arrest when she saw the flag being given back to the group.
— Indy Patriot (@indyp8riot) April 19, 2015
“I got a little unprofessional and called him a not-very-nice name because I was extremely upset that he told me one thing and he did something completely different,” Manhart said.
The group, which has not been identified, declined to press charges. The officers who arrested Manhart will also not be charging her.
Despite being banned from any campus activities, Michelle says she has no regrets and would do the same thing if the situation occurred again.
“If I had to do it again I would. Our men and women who don’t get to come home are wrapped in that [the flag],” Manhart said. “It’s draped over their caskets during their funerals. Same with our police officers, our firefighters. Our American flag is our American symbol.”
Valdosta State University President William J. McKinney issued a statement through the university’s website. He said, while the flag “represents everything that is best about our country,” the protesters had a right to do what they were doing.
“As the Supreme Court has held, one of those things is the right to free speech, which includes the right to disrespect even the symbol of our country,” McKinney’s statement read. “While I firmly disagree with the actions of the protesters, I understand their right to protest.”
What do you think about Michelle’s actions? Should she have been detained? Should the protesters be allowed to disrespect the flag? Leave your comments below.
[Image via Wikipedia]