Updated 12:30 p.m.
By Ann Kelley
MIDWEST CITY — A U.S. Marine Corps reservist may have broken the law when he crossed a protest line to defend the U.S. flag, but he will not be punished for it, city officials said.
Midwest City Assistant City Attorney Randal Homburg said he thinks there are grounds to prosecute Ray Adam Modisette, 20, for an act of civil disobedience. At the request of the local police department, Homburg said he’s declining to file charges.
Modisette, of Shawnee, was arrested Friday afternoon on a complaint of interfering with official police process. He told The Oklahoman he was reacting to a war protester who was stuffing an American flag down her pants.
. . . June Parsons, 73, of Stillwater said the incident brought back bad memories of anti-military sentiment during the Vietnam War. Her husband was killed fighting in Vietnam, she said.
“If I was there I would have wanted to do the same thing and probably gotten the snot knocked out of me,” Parsons said. “I’m proud of that young man for standing up.”
Mike Chase, a reserve deputy with the Oklahoma County sheriff’s office, was among about 150 people who showed up Friday to demonstrate against the church group. Chase, who lost his son, Lance Michael Chase, in January 2006 in Iraq, said he could relate to both the emotions expressed by Modisette and the reaction of police. . .
MIDWEST CITY — A U.S. Marine Corps reservist won’t be charged for ignoring police requests and wading into a protest to rescue an American Flag.
Ray Adam Modisette, 20, said he was reacting to a war protester who was stuffing an American flag down her pants. . .
MichelleMalkin.com: In Defense of the American Flag (ultra-conservative columnist discusses this incident in her blog post)
I am used to crappy journalism with our local press, but this is beyond the pale. Both stories do not provide the most basic of relevant facts in this case, that the protesters are not “anti-war protesters” but rather are the hategroup, Westboro Baptist Church (head by the “Reverend” Fred Phelps) which publishes the website Godhatesfags.com. WBC protests the military, not because they are anti-war, but because they say that God hates America for its allegedly pro-gay policies.
By describing the WBC protesters as “anti-war” protesters, they are smearing the local and national movements to end the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Almost all true anti-war protesters in Oklahoma and in other places would find the actions of WBC to be reprehensible.
And I find it strange that the local press is completely silent about the intent of the WBC protesters. It seems like they are more bothered by an attack on the flag, than they are by the expression of hate against LGBT Americans.
I will be sending LTE’s to both The Oklahoman and The Tulsa World about this. I’ll let y’all know if they published.
Updated 12:30 p.m. Here’s a story from the Midwest City paper. It is slightly better (as it discusses the presence of the counter-protesters), but it still says that WBC’s protest was “anti-war” instead of discussing their anti-gay message.
Also, as for the arrest and later decision to not prosecute Ray Modisette, I think both actions were pretty reasonable. The police really had no choice but to arrest him. The WBC hate group was engaged in constitutionally protected free speech and the police had to protect them. Their speech had a horrible message, but the best way to counter it is to engage in more free speech. I normally am not fan of the police, but they deserve credit here for keeping this situation from becoming violent.
I also think that the decision not to prosecute Modisette was appropriate. Since Modisette hadn’t actually engaged in an act of violence at that point, then there was no real harm done and I don’t think any benefit would come from prosecuting him. What he did was stupid, but understandable. The flag is very important symbol for many people and I can understand why he responded the way he did.