Durham May Day Protest
Three people participating in a Charlotte May Day protest were arrested Tuesday, after police say they set a U.S. flag on fire in an uptown park.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police said 15 protesters were participating in the event Tuesday evening when three in the group pulled out a flag, poured "ignitable liquid" on it and set it on fire about 6:20 p.m.
Charlotte Fire and CMPD arson detectives responded, leading to the arrest of Landon Rice, 23, VanaMary Isaac, 26, and Dhruv Pathak, 24, officials said.
Flag burning is not illegal in itself, with the Supreme Court declaring it's protected under the First Amendment right to free speech, according to The LawDictionary.com.
However, setting things on fire in a city park is illegal, and police say that's what prompted the arrests.
CMPD charged the three with carelessness with fire and injury to real property, officials said.
North Carolina court records show Rice, who lives in Charlotte, was found guilty in the past of simple assault and driving while intoxicated. She has also been charged with resisting arrest (charge later dismissed) and impeding traffic. She pleaded guilty to the latter charge and sought prayer for judgment, meaning the court did not enter a final judgment of conviction in the case.
Charlotte TV station WCNC reported the resisting arrest and impeding traffic charges were filed during protests that erupted in the city after a district attorney decided not to press charges against the police officer who shot Keith Lamont Scott during an incident in an apartment community parking lot.
The shooting of Scott in 2016 ignited days of violent protests in the city, including damage to dozens of uptown businesses and the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Records show Dhruv Pathak of Charlotte has been charged in the past with impeding traffic, resisting arrest, second degree trespass, disorderly conduct and assault on a government official. All were dismissed except the charge of impeding traffic. He pleaded guilty in that case and sought a prayer for judgment.
May Day is also known as International Workers' Day and is often a time when workers and activists around the world protest labor issues. In the United States, many of the demonstrations focused on immigration policies and immigrant rights under the Trump administration, the Associated Press reported.
Anyone with information on the suspects is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.