YORKTOWN, Va. – A man was arrested Thursday after officials said he set an American flag on fire in the parking lot of a Walmart store in Virginia.
According to WAVY-TV, cellphone video recorded the man driving up in front of the Yorktown, Virginia, store, pulling out the stars and stripes, tossing it on the ground, dousing it in gasoline and setting it ablaze.
Witnesses said they could hear the man shouting that the country does not care about its citizens.
Officials at the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office said they arrested 22-year-old Mitchell Stauffer in connection with the incident, charging him with burning an object in a public place with intent to intimidate.
The sheriff said in a Facebook post that while a person’s right to burn the flag is protected under the First Amendment, his act made onlookers nervous.
“The burning of our great American Flag is very offensive to most people including me,” Sheriff J.D. Diggs wrote. “That being said, the courts have ruled that act alone is an expression of free speech and not per se illegal. This charge is appropriate under the Code of Virginia. It is fortunate that no one was injured today.”
If convicted, Stauffer could face up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine, according to WAVY-TV.