These days, the Confederate flag doesn't have a lot of defenders.
Yet Manitou Springs activist Patricia Cameron has been arrested for burning one — and the circumstances of the bust have resulted in national headlines.
Turns out Cameron was cited late at night about three weeks after the well-publicized torching. And the accusations against her supposedly have nothing to do with her decision to incinerate what most, though not all, people see as a racist symbol.
No, she's in trouble for using a grill in an area where such items are forbidden.
Cameron, whose @ThisIsSoCo Twitter feed and blog are frequently updated with politically progressive items, news and notes, wasn't trying to hide her intention to put the Confederate flag to the flame. Far from it. She tweeted about the July 4 event and created a Facebook event page featuring this poster....
...and text that reads in part:
Join us at Soda Springs park for a peaceful protest/event burning the flag that has flown as a symbol of hatred and division for years. The 4th of July is a great day to demonstrate our unity and commitment to a unified country! Barbeque to follow (BYOB and Meat, if necessary) and stay for the Manitou 4th of July fireworks held each year.She also conducted an interview with the Colorado Springs Independent the week before the big day and invited media members to attend — and they did. For instance, this tweet featuring the flag on a grill....
Still, the lion's share of attention garnered by the burning came in recent days, after Cameron's arrest.
According to the Gazette, Cameron was "served and released" around 11 p.m. on Wednesday, July 22, at her home, with the Manitou Springs Police Department explaining its rationale in a press release.
"An accelerant was poured onto the flag, which was held over a small grill, lit with a lighter, at which point flames erupted," the release reads in part. "The situation posed a risk of danger to the property and citizens of Manitou Springs, as there were multiple people in the area."
Why the long delay before the citation? A police spokesperson told the Gazette that officials were busy at a "serious house fire" that took place around the same time as the flag burning, so they focused on that.
But they supposedly continued to investigate the actions of Cameron and her associates, since "grilling or barbecuing is not allowed under the Soda Springs Park pavilion.... People can grill in parks, but only with gas grills."
Cameron didn't speak to the Gazette, but four days later, she talked about her arrest on a national forum: The Daily Beast.
“It freaks me out that they can show up late at night outside my house,” she told the publication. “I kind of felt like...in this day in age, and the attention on all cops, you might want to mind your Ps and Qs when it comes to your interactions with the public.
“I definitely think they were trying to intimidate me,”
Cameron expanded on these points in a new piece on the Daily Kos.
"They said it was because that was the only time the officer could get there, but I know that officer well," she told the site in regard to the 11 p.m. arrival. "I have filmed him during multiple encounters between us. We are far from friends. I think it was intimidation, and I think that officer wanted to finally shut me up. And this was his way of showing dominance and power over me.
"At almost midnight, alone with my son, thinking of all those names, Sandra Bland included...all I could think was I was going to become another hashtag."
Instead, Cameron is receiving far more PR than could have been expected from the burning of a Confederate flag in Colorado — and she's got the Manitou Springs Police Department to thank for it. Here's the video of the grilling.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.