Mill Creek police: Citizen catches flag burners; officers hold disposal ceremony

MILL CREEK, Wash. -- Mill Creek police gathered at shift change Thursday morning to dispose of a flag that had been stolen and partly burned.

Earlier Thursday morning, a resident alerted police that he found two men burning a flag. They had stolen it from a home, hung it from a basketball hoop and started to light it.

The resident chased them but couldn't catch them.

“The Constitution protects flag burning as freedom of speech,” said Police Sgt. Bobby Phillip said in a news release. “However, in this situation, it was not free speech, but rather reckless and criminal behavior.”

Officers took the flag, which had been burned beyond repair, back to the station and were going to turn it over to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. But at 6 a.m., officers decided to dispose of the flag.

They folded the flag in triangle and burned it completely behind City Hall. The officers stood at attention and saluted, police said. The flags ashes were buried.

“Many of our crew have fought for that flag in service to their country,” said Phillips. “We take very seriously our obligation to honor the flag.”

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