A woman dragging a U.S. flag before the start of an immigration rally at Marshall Park on Monday drew the ire of U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger.
A Charlotte Observer videographer filmed Ashley Williams dragging the flag for about 10 minutes in the park before 250 people began marching from the park to support immigrants, refugees and workers. Williams is a leader of the Charlotte Uprising protest group, which did not organize Monday’s rally.
Williams walked by a man who told her to stop dragging the flag. “My father and uncles died for that flag,” the man told her.
“So did mine,” Williams replied, according to the Observer’s video of the encounter.
“We are on the same course, but please don’t drag it,” the man pleaded.
“We gotta drag it,” Williams replied.
“Have some respect,” the man said.
Williams and another woman stood with one boot on the flag as they waited for the march to begin.
As marchers passed the county courthouse, they encountered Concord minister Flip Benham, who said he picked up the flag and was now flying it behind him. He told the marchers they had desecrated the flag by walking on it, although an Observer reporter following the march saw no one walking on a flag. Most in the crowd held U.S. flags as they marched.
Pittenger, however, issued a statement later Monday saying protesters had desecrated the flag at the park.
“Many times, I have joined America’s newest citizens during their naturalization ceremony at the Federal Courthouse in Uptown,” Pittenger said. “As I congratulate them, I present them with an American flag in appreciation for their substantial efforts in joining with us as citizens. Today, protestors for illegal immigration desecrated an American flag at Marshall Park. What a stark contrast in values and respect.”