An absolutely insane woman won the hearts of conservatives after video was posted of her attempting to steal an American flag from a group of African-American protesters. Michelle Manhart, an Air Force veteran, former Playboy model, and violent psychopath, was filmed attempting to run off with a flag being used at an anti-white privilege protest at Valdosta State University.
The flag in question was on the ground, and was being walked on — a crude expression of demonstrators’ angst, but an act that was entirely within their rights as American citizens. As right-wingers love the flag (They don’t understand what it represents, but they certainly think it’s pretty), Manhart would not stand for these American citizens exercising their rights. So, she decided to do what any good “Christian” would — she ran up and stole the flag.
The video shows the moment police caught up to Manhart after the theft. A protester attempting to retrieve the stolen property reminded Manhart that, “That’s not yours.”
“Actually, it is,” Manhart responded. “This flag actually belongs to the entire United States.”
Another protester arrived with police, who also attempted to help Manhart retrieve the flag — and Manhart took off, attempting to elude law enforcement and protesters (until, of course, she was cornered).
“You enslaved our people,” one of the demonstrators told Manhart as she spoke with police.“You put us in this white supremacist place. And you’re stealing our flag now.”
As police had done nothing to truly help the situation at that point, protesters began to view the situation as yet another example of exactly what they are protesting.
“Is that not theft?” one of the protesters asked. “If this had been in the hood you would’ve had a n*gga in some handcuffs right now. Look at that white privilege.”
At this point, the officers present decided it was time to take action. One of them attempted to retrieve the flag from Manhart, who refused to release the demonstrators’ property. “I’m not letting go,” she said.
As police attempted to remove the thief’s hands from the stolen property, she violently resisted. Manhart struggled with police, refusing to release her grip on the flag.
“We gave you a lawful command to let go of this flag, ma’am,” one police officer tells Manhart. “This flag does not belong to you.”
Officers then wrestle some more with Manhart, who still refuses to relinquish her grip on the flag. However, at least one of the officers was distracted by the crowd, which appears to be keeping a decent distance from the action. “Everybody back up!” he screams at the demonstrators. “Back up!” All the while, Manhart refuses to cooperate with police.
Eventually, law enforcement managed to wrestle the flag away from Manhart, to applause from her victims. “Really guys?” asks the nice, white lady holding the camera. “Really? You couldn’t just stand up for the flag?”
Manhart, classy as ever, called one of the officers a “spiny little piece of sh*t” before she was led away to a police cruiser.
One might expect the thief to be charged with a crime, but police declined to file charges — a true expression of Manhart’s white privilege. She was issued a campus trespass warning, and was banned from future activities at the school.
The Valdosta Daily Times reports that protesters — the victims — were then asked for identification in order to determine if they are students. When the demonstrators refused, they were ordered to disperse.
University officials say it does not matter if the protesters are students or not, however. “They were exercising their right to symbolic speech,” a representative told the Times. “As long as they don’t disrupt the operations of the university, we let people engage in protest and debate.”
Manhart says the fight is not over, and she wants to see the law changed so that Americans lose at least some of the rights afforded under the First Amendment.
“The bald eagle is a symbol of our country, and back in the 80s it was put on the endangered species list,” Manhart said. “You can’t touch that bird. It’s illegal. If we can do that with a bird, why can’t we place that same value on the flag?”
She told the Daily Times that she hopes her victims will issue her a letter of apology.
Following the incident, school president William J. McKinney issued a statement explaining that the protesters’ expression was distasteful, but that the school respects their constitutional rights:
“Dear VSU students, faculty, and staff,
The American flag represents everything that is best about our country. 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. While I firmly disagree with the actions of the protesters, I understand their right to protest.”
We respect the rights of people to peacefully assemble and voice their opinions. Our primary concern is the safety of our students, faculty and staff and our ability to carry out our responsibilities to all our students on campus…”
Though Manhart committed a crime, and protesters were entirely within their rights under the Constitution she claims to have defended, conservatives are furious. Under a YouTube posting, the Right raged against the protesters — oddly, never mentioning the crime that was committed:
Under a NY Daily News article on the incident, commenters suggested that the protesters should just go back to Africa:
Naturally, as a crime was committed and the victims were African-Americans, conservatives have set up a GoFundMe to reward Manhart for her actions, apparently unaware that Texas v. Johnson affirmed Americans’ First Amendment right to desecrate the flag.
In its decision, the court noted in 1989 that “[i]f there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”
Desecrating the flag is incredibly distasteful, but the fact remains that it is protected symbolic speech. No matter how much conservatives wish to limit the First Amendment, this remains a reality.
Featured image via YouTube