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May 3, 2001
4:06 AM   Subscribe

In a throwaway comment the Telegraph reports an unprecedented criminal charge. "Last week her colleague, Lindis Percy, 59, a former Greenham Common protester, was acquitted of criminal misuse of an American flag". An earlier Independent article covers the background "[T]he Crown Prosecution Service has accused Lindis Percy of being motivated by racist hatred of the American people when she "trailed" the US flag on the road at the US military eavesdropping base at Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire."
posted by Cuppatea (6 comments total)

Hopefully she'll be acquitted based on the fact that U.S. citizen's are not a race. Seems like law enforcement was grabbing at straws on that charge.
posted by the_ill_gino at 4:28 AM on May 3, 2001

From the site of those protesting:

The court was told that the US Supreme Court had refused to make flag abuse a criminal offence. Rajiv Menon asked "Why are we in the UK trying to criminalise behaviour which is lawful in the US?"

In his ruling Peter Nuttall described as 'wholly over the top' the evidence from Kenneth Zernicke, a US citizen who claimed he had been deeply distressed and insulted at the treatment of the US flag. The District Judge said "We do have rights as citizens and they include the right to protest. Nobody could say that this was other than peaceful protest". He described the prosectuion for disorderly behaviour as 'overkill' and added "The man who claims to be so upset could not possibly be seen as representative of the American community - not even the American community at Menwith Hill".

MODPlod emailed the entire base's staff, asking if anyone was offended by the use of the flag. Three-quarters said "no"; the case was brought on the excessive offense taken by precisely three of the one thousand Americans stationed there.

If the "inciting racial hatred" laws are to be misapplied in this way, then it does a disservice to those it was designed to recognise -- the victims of racially-motivated assaults and other violent crimes -- as well as making Britain look, once more, like Mr George's bitch.
posted by holgate at 4:39 AM on May 3, 2001

"Why are we in the UK trying to criminalise behaviour which is lawful in the US?"

Dunno, seems to be the way things go around here ;)
posted by methylsalicylate at 4:41 AM on May 3, 2001

That's ridiculous. She was probably only dragging the flag on the road because, as anyone who has tried will tell you, they're damned hard to burn. I don't know what they make 'em out of these days...
posted by lagado at 5:20 AM on May 3, 2001

I, for one, demand full rights for American-Americans.
posted by whuppy at 6:02 AM on May 3, 2001

> they're damned hard to burn. I don't know what they make
> 'em out of these days...

Recycled asbesdos removed from school buildings. Note, they're making brassieres out of the same stuff, which is why you haven't heard of a bra-burning lately.
posted by jfuller at 6:35 AM on May 3, 2001

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