Flag disrespect by child, mother arrested.
We should see this more often.
Boy Stomps Flag At Funeral, Mom Arrested
Pair Are Part Of Anti-Gay Church That Protests Funerals
POSTED: 1:44 pm EDT June 6, 2007
OMAHA, Neb. -- A woman was arrested in Bellevue, Neb., on Tuesday during the funeral for a fallen soldier.
Shirley Phelps-Roper was arrested on suspicion of contributing to the delinquency of a minor for allegedly allowing her 8-year-old son to stomp on an American flag.
Phelps-Roper is a member of a Topeka, Kan., church that conducts anti-homosexual picketing at funeral services for U.S. soldiers.
Hundreds of people packed Bellevue streets Tuesday morning to pay tribute to a firefighter and soldier. Spc. Bill Bailey was serving in the National Guard in Iraq when he was killed by a roadside bomb.
Police said the group to which Phelps-Roper belongs had a permit to protest 300 feet from Bailey's funeral.
Bellevue Officer Joe Gray, who made the arrest, said that at first the group brought out a couple of members' own American flags.
"The arrestee, Ms. Phelps-Roper, put one around her waist. The second one was given to a 10-year-old, who put it on the ground and started kicking it in the area they were protesting," Gray said.
Nebraska law states that it is a Class 3 misdemeanor when a person "intentionally casts contempt or ridicule upon a flag by mutilating, defacing, defiling, burning or trampling upon such flag." The law was passed in 1977.
"It appears the adults weren't stepping on the flag because they knew it was a violation of the law. But they allowed the children to go ahead and do that," Gray said.
Phelps-Roper said she believes she has the right to use the flag as a symbol, and said Nebraska's law is outdated.
"We're going to challenge that statute," she said. "That statue should have been repealed."
Gray said the arrest wasn't personal and has nothing to do with his beliefs. He said he's simply doing his job.
"It's state law, so we were enforcing the laws of Nebraska," the officer said.
Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov said the words from the group are fighting words, which are not protected speech.