Dozens congregate in Fort Greene Park to celebrate, burn Old Glory

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Photo gallery

Ride or die: Members of the Hallowed Sons motorcycle club showed up at Fort Greene Park to protect the American flag against burners.
American Muscle: A pro-flag patriot wears his pro-flag gear.
Anarchy in the US: A heated encounter between a flag-burner and a flag-defender unfolds in Fort Greene Park.
American tune: A lone songstress works her way through a host of patriotic tunes against the Martyrs Monument at the center of the park.
Land of the free: Flag-defenders turn up to wave their banners.
Feel the burn: An impassioned demonstrator speaks about racial violence in America to surrounding flag-wavers.
Law and order: Police escort a man out after a near-brawl with pro-flag protestors.
Aftermath: The anarchist barbeque pit remained at the monument site after the flag is rescued.
Old glory: John Carroll holds the flag he rescued from the barbeque.
American hero: John Carroll holds the tattered American flag he pulled from the flames.
Bring the heat: Pro-flag activist Diane Atkins speaks out against flag-burning.
BBQ punks: A group aligned with the flag-burners stand near the burning site.

Hordes of people showed up at Fort Greene Park on Wednesday night for a flag-burning event, some loudly defending the American flag as a symbol of freedom while others denounced it as an emblem of white supremacy, descending into a maelstrom of flag-waving and shouting while a handful of activists quietly burned the banner in a nearby barbecue pit.

A group calling itself Disarm NYPD announced the event online last week, inviting people to join them in burning the Confederate flag as a protest against racism. The group later decided to go ahead and toss in the American flag as well, claiming it to be a modern-day symbol of oppression and racial violence, and news of the event quickly spread through the national media — which turned out in force to cover the protest.

The event was slated to take place at the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Washington Place in Fort Greene Park, but when defenders of the stars and stripes showed up in patriotic regalia to fight back, there were no flag-burners in sight.

That is because the activist group was actually performing the promised torching in a tiny barbecue directly in front of the Prison Ship Martyr’s Monument in the center of the park. When smoke arose over the hill, the pro-flag protesters took off running and found a small group of activists — about a dozen, according to cops — most of whom scattered when confronted with incensed members of Bay Ridge motorcycle club the Hallowed Sons.

The masses missed the activists grilling the Confederate flag, but arrived in time to see Old Glory go up in flames.

One man rushed forward to pull the American flag from the blaze, knocking an activist to the ground in the process. The guy said he was just doing what any patriot would have done.

“I’m not a hero,” said John Carroll, who lives in Queens. “I just happened to be the first guy there.”

Carroll, who also brought a fire extinguisher to the event but said he ultimately decided to leave it in his car, said he planned to take the charred remains of the flag home and call the American Legion to find out the correct way to dispose of the remnants.

One attendee said she supported the flag-burning, but that simply igniting the ensign was not enough — people need to work to eliminate racism as well, she said.

“Yeah, burn it, why not? But that’s just a symbol,” said Ebony Bailey of Fort Greene.

But most of the action took place away from the barbecue, as screaming matches broke out between groups of flag-waving patriots and others voicing anger over recent racially-motivated crimes around the country. The debates were ultimately drowned out by deafening chants of “USA! USA!”

Police say no arrests were made, though one of the activists was spotted being pulled into an police van, apparently to separate him from enraged pro-flag protesters.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at or by calling (718) 260–8312.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

John from Bay Ridge says:
The Charleston church shooter, Dylann Roof, posted a picture of himself burning a US flag on social media, so I suppose he and yesterday's flag burners really have something in common. Ignorance.
July 2, 2015, 6:24 am
DM says:
Wow, in the past few months we've seen blacks and whites hand-in-hand marching for police reforms and calls among Southerners for the removal of Confederate flags. Way to blow it. No doubt all the conservative blow-hards in this country are saying to their listeners "see, the very same people who are asking for police reform & the end of institutional racism are anti-American flag burners". Way to set back the cause.
July 2, 2015, 8:30 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
John Carroll was right to say any good American would save our flag from the flames. I believe there are still a few things we should hold sacred, and that not everything needs to be denigrated to prove a point. Of course, people may exercise their 1st amendment rights. However, there are bounderies society must set to avoid chaos. Just look at the countries that do not believe in themselves.
July 2, 2015, 9:18 am
Ruchel from Borough Park says:
Charles, I am more worried about the countries that *do* believe in themselves.
July 2, 2015, 9:34 am
Jay Pelc from Brooklyn Heights says:
Put all those America-hating ingrate morons in handcuffs and throw them on a boat to some hellhole country and see how terrible America is.
July 2, 2015, 10:35 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Ok then! No more confederate flags! Glad that's fixed! 'Cause like it causes like racism and stuff!

Or as Michelle Obama once said "All this for a flag?"
July 2, 2015, 10:50 am
Admiral Porter from U.S. Navy Yard, Brooklyn says:
I just wiped my ass with the flag, who cares? It's a piece of cloth or plastic, probably made in China!

Robert E. Lee

1) owned slaves

2) whipped slaves

3) took FREE blacks and took the south
July 2, 2015, 12:42 pm
fatimah from cobble hill says:
Soon to be made into a major motion picture.. good grief
July 2, 2015, 2:24 pm
Bob from Fort Greene says:
Admiral Porter, if you did that in the presence of one of those biker veterans, he would have stuck it so far up your you know what that you'd have corners of the flag coming out your ears.
July 2, 2015, 2:31 pm
Mom from Clinton Hill says:
This is stupid.
July 2, 2015, 8:37 pm
Ted General from Bay Ridge says:
This moronic event took place on hallowed ground, adjacent to the 149-foot tall Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument. 40 feet below this ground is a crypt containing the actual remains of 11,500 patriots who died aboard British prison ships during the American Revolution. They were America's first POW's and defied the British crown by failing to swear allegiance to Great Britain.
July 2, 2015, 10:49 pm
vince from former ft greenw says:
Last time I checked...I am still not welcomed in Gravesnd..
July 3, 2015, 12:56 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
John Carroll is right, he's no hero. He was part of an angry mob that used threats of violence against people exercising their Constitutionally protected rights. Texas v. Johnson says they can do it, and it should be done, since NYC is one of the most institutionally racists places in the USA thanks to urban planning and Robert Moses.
So thanks to all the people who fought for my freedom from the Vietnamese and Iraqis (man they came so close to taking over the country didn't they...) and protected my right to burn the —— out of any flag I want. Go scream " 'Murika for Everything" in the Wal Mart parking lot and stop trampling on civil rights.
July 4, 2015, 6:28 am
Scott from Park Slope says:
John Carroll is an idiot and false patriot, because every real patriot would know that burning is the correct way to dispose of an American flag. That aside, I have no problem with burning the American flag in protest because it is the symbol of the United States of America, a political construct that really has nothing to do with America or Americans anymore. I love America deeply, but the government does not represent us anymore and I will not pledge allegiance to a system that is of the banks, by the banks, and for the banks. Burn away, Americans!
July 4, 2015, 9:03 am
John from Bay Ridge says:
John Caroll was also exercising his right to free speech through the symbolic act of extinguishing the burning flag. When you engage in an exercise of free speech in a public space like a city park, other citizens present have the right to respond. That's the way a democracy works. Scott and Jim just dislike the response.

DisarmNYPD is a pack of naive fools, who amply displayed their ignorance and self-indulgence by choosing as the venue for their display of childishness a monument to 11,500 American sailors and soldiers who were starved to death by the British during the revolutionary war because they supported American independence.
July 4, 2015, 12:36 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Not surprising to see John from Bay Ridge get it so wrong.

John Caroll did not exercise his free speech rights, he physically stopped others from doing so. He went up and took a flag that did not belong to him. That is not symbolic, it is explicit and literal. Maybe you don't know what symbolic means (I'll give you a hint, it does not mean going up to someone and physically taking something that doesn't belong to you, because you just don't like what they're doing). That's what children with no self-control do. I have the right to burn any flag I want if it physically belongs to me, and that means anyone who doesn't like can moan about it all that want, but they can't take it away, that's theft.

That is not how democracy works, that is how thugs work.
July 5, 2015, 7:08 am
John from Bay Ridge says:
Jim you just don't get it do you? What is childish is a) burning an American flag in front of a monument to 11,500 murdered POWs, b) calling for the literal disarmament of the NYPD, and c) expecting that the flag burners retained "ownership" of something they threw away and burned.

You don't want to admit it, but freedom of expression works both ways.
July 5, 2015, 9:28 pm

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