A Urbana, Illinois, man was arrested by the Urbana Police Department July 4, for flag desecration after reports were made to officers about the man posting his burning of the U.S. flag on social media.
Urbana police received numerous calls regarding Bryton Mellott’s Facebook post, some asking for police action and others expressing concern for Mellott’s safety, according to a press release from the department.
When officers saw the post, they also saw numerous threats of violence towards Mellott and his place of employment. His workplace had received numerous phone calls regarding Mellott’s post, according to the UPD. Because of the high number of responses and specific threats to Mellott’s workplace, where police say an act of violence would likely cause harm to others, police decided to become involved with the case.
After an investigation and speaking to Mellott and his employer, Mellott was arrested for flag desecration. Additionally, he was listed for disorderly conduct and as a victim of disorderly conduct.
After police consulted with a member of the state attorney’s office, police released Mellott because of questions about the constitutionality of a 2013 flag desecration law. He was given a date to appear in court.
The UPD said in the release that they recognize that the case where the right to free speech comes into conflict with the safety of citizens not involved and that the actions they took in this case were to try to assure the safety of the public and Mellott.