Dear PoPville – Flag burning incident on 4th of July


“Dear PoPville,

A bunch of hipsters decided it was really cool to burn the American flag on the 4th of July.

It was around 7ish and the alley between Fairmont and Girard was in full party mode with loud music and BBQ. Then about 10 to 15 individuals, a mixed group with black and white in their late 20’s early 30’s came out on the deck over the garage with a flag upside down and then set it on fire. The property is a rental with constant change and the owner lives in New York.

The flag took a long time time to catch on fire and eventually caught the attention of the many parties going on in the alley. Many people started yelling at the flag burners. The flag burners then started shouting about US imperialism and suppression of the blacks. Somewhere in the yelling there was also comments from them about how bad Obama was. Eventually, the flag caught on fire and started blowing chunks of flames very close to the cable and electric wires. At this point I called 911.

Eventually 911 sent police over and at which point the flag burners went inside except for about two of them who then denied setting the flag on fire. Most of the neighbors came out and a rather heated argument ensured. I am not sure what occurred after but the flag burners went inside.

I am quite aware one allowed to burn the flag as freedom of speech. It was ironic that they decided to do it in the alleyway to incite the local crowd and then run in when the police came.”

119 Comment

  • It may be offensive and stupid, but as an American I’m proud to acknowledge that they have the right to do it.

    • And what does the letter-writer hope for? Hanging? A citation for intentionally burning something without a permit? Some sort of charge of endangerment?

      • oops – wasn’t meant to be a reply to Mittens!

      • my guess is the letter writer wanted to give them press and thus, more credibility.

      • I think the author meant to show what douches look like and that sadly so many of them live in CH.

        I don’t care about burning the flag – it’s their right in this country, even if they aren’t citizens. But I do care about fire hazards. I do care about white folks moaning that black folk aren’t treated well but then do something that could accidentally burn down a black person’s home.

        How about if you are upset about the imperialism they put down their $10 beer in a condo that mommy and daddy are paying for and volunteer with kids in the community; pick up trash around a school; etc. Instead they want to have their right to party but don’t see the folks who have lived here for decades as neighbors but backdrops to their lives.

    • Me too. And I’m one of the few conservatives on this blog!

  • How does the author know it is a bunch of hipsters?

  • Why are they hipsters?

    • Maybe from the definition “a person, especially during the 1950s, characterized by a particularly strong sense of alienation from most established social activities and relationships.”

  • skj84

    Flag burning is a hipster thing to do? I don’t think that word means what you think letter writer.

  • When you say “hipsters” do you just mean generic young adults that may not look like they work at a conservative government job?

    • I cringe when my 50 year-old boss talks about how us young employees are “hipsters.” And I work at the Federal Reserve – the antipathy of “cool.”

    • Is it bad to have a “conservative government job”?

      • No, its probably pays well and could be interesting. I did stereotype that that a lot of people in those positions might not look like what people consider as a typical “hipster” though.

      • I thought conservatives hated government jobs.

        • They do — unless it’s THEIR government job. I’m always amazed at how many anti-government people feed themselves from the public trough.

    • These days ‘hipster’ is used interchangeable with ‘poseur’.

  • Sounds like the letter writer should mind his or her own business.

    As people living in the capital should know, this is a free country. People can burn a flag if they want to.

    • Yeah, the OP stated people can burn the flag. Did you miss that part? Last paragraph dear…

      I think one of the points the OP was making was that they were exercising their free speech in a manner that was hazardous to other people and property — fire in an alley and near utility lines.

    • I think the letter is meant to create discussion. Free speech and actions do become part of other peoples business as in “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins”. Also did you miss the the part where the writer says “I am quite aware one allowed to burn the flag as freedom of speech”?

      The point of the letter seems to be about the group using alcohol and starting a fire, and the potential hazzard to neighborhood utilites.

      • So the references to the motives and the fact it was the Fourth of July or that it was angering people were…what exactly? Superfluous since obviously the OP’s only concern was safety? Doubtful. Stop being so naive.

    • “As people living in the capital should know, this is a free country. People can burn a flag if they want to.”
      Absolutely correct. And others can point out how misguided, hypocritical, and douchey they are for doing so. Actual speech is also free speech.

  • At this point which word is more useful as a fill in for ‘young whippersnappers that I don’t like’, millennial or hipster? asking for a friend.

  • So everyone from 25 to 35 is a hipster now? K, good to know.

    • Actually if you were born a hipster you’d be in your mid 60’s, if you were an OG you’d be in your 80’s or 90’s… so the OP is trippin’.

  • Unless it was an out-of-control fire, and it doesn’t seem like it was, I don’t see what the big deal was. It sounds a lot safer than the fireworks everyone else was setting off, albeit less festive.

  • “So burn the flag if you must, but before you do, you better burn a few other things! You better burn your shirt and your pants! Be sure to burn your TV and car! Oh yes, and don’t forget to burn your house! Because none of those things could exist without six white stripes, seven red stripes, and a hell of a lot of stars!”

    -Nelson Muntz

  • I am shocked- SHOCKED- that this would transpire on the 4th of July- normally a day for quiet and sober reflection on the birth of Our Country. Has anyone contacted their ANC rep about these “hipsters” and their outrageous conduct? People behaving in a drunken or disorderly fashion on the 4th of July has gone too far- personally, I think the answer is for additional gentrification to push these “hipsters” and miscreant youths back to where they belong- OUTSIDE OF DC!

    • There is so much fail in your comment. Are such things restricted on July 4th? On New year’s day? On 9/11? on any other day?
      Time to wake up bro. Because you love your country with so much heart and fuzzy feelings doesn’t mean others feel the same

  • I also hate it when tens of thousands of hipsters converge on the National Mall to petition for a redress of grievances, then run home. Next time I’m calling 911.

  • A flag is a flag, it has zero meaning. I fail to see how getting worked up over an object is useful.
    The actions of these clowns don’t affect how you feel about the US.

    • You, son, have no concept of history. You obviously don’t come from a military family.

      • “You obviously don’t come from a military family”
        There are many of us. You’ll have to come to terms with that sometime.

        • Yeah, sorry, I grew up in a military family and they are often the first to see through this nationalistic nonsensical symbology and worship. Iconography is usually attractive to those who haven’t actually sacrificed very much.

      • Please don’t lump us all together. I was raised in a soldier family. They taught me to despise officers and the flag they worshipped. They are all horrified I live this close to the flagpole.

        • The only irony I see is calling the cops on your neighbor for creating a fire hazard on the 4th of July.

          • Dunno how this got here but while I’m here my vet dad taught me the same as anon-military.

    • “A flag is a flag, it has no meaning.” I meant to add: Tell that to the guys who raised the flag at Iwo Jima. Your sentiment is more a reflection of education in this country than of you personally.

      • That flag was a pretty big deal. This one was probably $8 at Target.

      • What does one person’s anonymous comment on a blog have to do with the state of education in America? There’s clearly a big difference between a this flag and Iwo Jima.. And MOST people don’t come from a military family

      • The heroic taking of Iwo Jima – and the lives lost to do so – is important. And I remember and am thanful for that. The flag on top of Iwo Jima (and subsequent use of the photograph as a piece of propaganda) really has no interest to me.
        And as others said, the politicians who wrap themselves in this flag have done more to disgrace it than any idiots burning it in an alley. But sure, let’s get worked up over the inconsequential matter that has no effect on our lives.

    • 18 U.S. Code § 700 – Desecration of the flag of the United States; penalties
      (1) Whoever knowingly mutilates, defaces, physically defiles, burns, maintains on the floor or ground, or tramples upon any flag of the United States shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.

      • for the record, that’s dead letter law, unenforceable per 1st amendment and Supreme Court ruling

  • That is not ironic.

  • Pretty much. Made me chuckle.

  • pablo .raw

    For me is more concerning the fact that there’s drunk people setting things on fire. I understand some patriotic people could get offended that someone is burning the flag, but to me there’s not much difference between that, and wearing the flag as underwear (that a lot of people do).

    • +1. I’m way more concerned by the whole burning things in an alley. I think burning the flag is disrespectful, and in this case, ignorant, but we’re lucky to live in a country where our freedom of speech is guaranteed.

    • +1. The people who did this sound like a bunch of annoying, attention-seeking showoffs, but I don’t think it’s worth getting worked up about, other than the fire-hazard issue. The flag-burners were likely trying to get a rise out of someone, and with the OP, it seems they succeeded.

    • “Drunk people setting things on fire” is how most Americans celebrate the 4th.

    • 18 U.S. Code § 700 – Desecration of the flag of the United States; penalties
      (1) Whoever knowingly mutilates, defaces, physically defiles, burns, maintains on the floor or ground, or tramples upon any flag of the United States shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.

  • I saw a lady pulling flags out of the display in front ofAnnie’s Hardware then throwing them on the ground. I honked at her, she ran after my car,then I saw her yank one more out for good measure. The question: “Dickish or unstable or both?” came to mind. I would guess the former for the rooftop thing, the latter for the Annie’s thing.

  • I’m more offended by people who wear flag-themed bikinis. At least burning the flag indicates some awareness of a larger geopolitical world, whether or not one agrees with the opinions attached to that awareness. But I don’t get worked up about the bikini, either, really.

    • Except these folks didn’t do this as part of some geopolitical awareness. Who did they burn it for? I think they just wanted something to burn.

      They were yelling at who in CH about the treatment of Black people? Its like the morons of occupy – there are people starving in this city and who have no choice but to sleep in a park – instead of helping feed and shelter them in spite of the system they starve and sleep in the park as a protest?

      I don’t care they burned a flag – I care they created a fire hazard.

      • You know who else created a fire hazard? Everyone shooting fireworks. Did you call the police every time you heard a firework go off as well?

        • I didn’t see this – so I didn’t call the cops.

          I love the indignancy of how fireworks are so bad too. I’m sure your outrage is equally distributed when you see a 20 something year old white millennial drinking in public and an old black guy drinking out of a paper bag.

      • I was part of Occupy, and you have no idea what you are talking about.

        • I know all about Occupy DC. The rapes that women didn’t report for fear of bringing down the “movement”. I had friends in that park who stopped sleeping their for safety reasons.

          I watched as the white males with their white privilege dumped human waste in the gutters; sat around. I walked through and didn’t see anyone ever in that library reading any of the books. I watched the occupiers eat fast food and not “off the grid”.

          So tell me again about occupy – tell me about the gender diversity; tell me about the diversity of occupy???

          I watched the blogs – asking for board games that take a lot of time. You weren’t asking for books to understand how economic systems work; social systems work so you could fix them.

          I watched as Occupy made people who make minimum wage late for work with protests. I watched as Occupy stopped a mom from getting her kid from day care costing her money because day care workers charge for their time. So you could block an intersection because?????

          I know about Occupy – I also know it just gave white boys something to do until ………

    • did you know it’s actually against the law to make flag-themed bikinis? as well as many other flag-themed items.

      • No, it isn’t. For the reasons stated in several comments here. Texas v. Johnson. Just because a law is on the books does not make it enforceable.

  • These guys are just radicals living up to cartoonish stereotypes while courageously proclaiming that they are too enlightened to suffer the ignorance of other mere sheepeople.

    This house has some connections to “School Of Americas Watch.” Flag burning and chants of “imperialism” are about as cliche as it gets. Nothing to see here. Next time, instead of calling the police, call these fools what they are, sheep of another kind, fervent enough in their beliefs to betray their own naïveté.

    • I mean School of the Americas, or school of the assassins as politically conscious folks and central and south american call it, is a really messed up institution worthy of being “watched” “protested” and anything else. In fact the refugee crisis on the border is directly tied to the assassinations and coups SOA was responsible for.

      • +1. Flag-burning is obnoxious (but protected, go USA!) but anyone protesting the School of the Americas gets some points in my book.

      • ‘Politically conscious’ is a coded, and only slightly veiled way to say ‘people that agree with me.’ It is precisely that kind of stereotypical self-righteous language and logic that leads a group of drunk anti-capitalists to think that there is some deeper message, something profound, something that can be said, by igniting a piece of fabric on fire. It’s all theater. If they really understood the system, they’d understand that burning the flag means nothing,unless the flag actually means something. It does, and there is nothing they can do about it with that kind of attitude.

  • agree that I don’t see the purpose in OP’s letter. Definitely annoying and perhaps upsetting but if not worth your time to comment on it.

  • Sounds like they got the attention they were looking for and then weren’t willing to stand up for themselves once they got it. I prefer my ability to at once disagree with certain U.S. policies and historical injustices, turn away from knee-jerk patriotism, and respect the positive contributions of the United States and its people and the freedoms I enjoy as an American.

  • That’s it, I am moving to Canada!

  • Looks like a severe case of “Look at me!”

  • Did they tell you to “Stop bitching and start a revolution” ?

  • As annoying and silly as this was, calling the cops is a disproportionate response. Be a better user of city resources.

  • Seems pretty silly if they didn’t also throw bricks through that Starbuck’s window.

  • 18 U.S. Code § 700 – Desecration of the flag of the United States; penalties
    (1) Whoever knowingly mutilates, defaces, physically defiles, burns, maintains on the floor or ground, or tramples upon any flag of the United States shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.

  • Unflattering American Flag dresses or short-shorts on plus-sized citizens is far more offensive. I don’t know any other countries that take so much pride is making underwear and ripped tubetops out of their national flags.

    • Emmaleigh504

      did you watch any of the World Cup coverage? People all over the world love to make hideous shit out of their flags.

  • lovefifteen

    The OP referring to black Americas as “the blacks” does not sit right with me. It makes me wonder what kind of person this is.

    • I was in disbelief when I heard my mom use this same phrasing (which I think she must’ve picked up from her racist redneck boyfriend). It was in reference to an acquaintance of mine who was moving from the VA suburbs to my basement apartment (in the Park View/Petworth area): “Did you tell her about the blacks?” OMG.

      • As a black person I dont see a problem with this. You could say the same about the whites.

        • Maybe it was the context, but she was using the term as though black people were a monolithic entity of people who all think and act alike, as opposed to distinguishing between “neighbors of lower socioeconomic status who live trashily and happen to be black” and “neighbors who keep up their properties and also happen to be black.”

  • Abner! Come take a look…..a bunch of hipsters…and…and they’re burning a flag!

  • Right…because only people who joyfully accept and celebrate everything that the nation does at all times and in all circumstances should be allowed to live in this holy of holies.

  • POPville commenters are up there with CNN and WaPo.

    Clearly, these “hipsters” were trying to follow US Code Title 4, Ch 8, Paragraph K (
    (k) The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

    I guess their definition of dignified was slightly different than most.

    Also, please remember that this sacred flag is often made into underwear, bathing suits, t-shirts, and other items of clothing. Often soiled from beer and bbq every 4th of July. Which is the greater evil?

  • Posted by: Anonymous

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