An Illinois man has received a $15,000 settlement after he was arrested for posting a photo of himself burning an American flag on Fourth of July weekend in 2016.
The News-Gazette reports 22-year-old Bryton Mellott was arrested by the Urbana Police Department after he uploaded a photo on Facebook showing him burning an American flag on the July 3, 2016. According to the News-Gazette, Mellott was detained for five hours on Independence Day after being arrested under the Illinois’ 1989 flag desecration law, which the Supreme Court had already ruled unconstitutional.
The ACLU, which represented Mellott, claims that the incident began when a police officer called Mellott to ask him questions about the Facebook post. After the police officer demanded Mellott take down the photo, two police officers arrested him.
The News-Gazette reports Mellott said he burned the flag “to address the issue of gun violence in our country that has existed needlessly and without intervention” and in order “to address the issue of violence brought against members of my queer community and against every community considered to be 'other.'”
In a statement after the settlement, Mellott said, “While this is a fact the police department should have known already, I certainly hope that they have learned from their mistake.”
As part of a settlement, he will receive $15,000 in damages and $20,000 for legal fees.
Mellott has since posted another photo of himself burning an American flag on his Facebook page.
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