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4 FLAG-BURNING DEMONSTRATORS INVITE ARREST TO TEST NEW LAW

SHARE 4 FLAG-BURNING DEMONSTRATORS INVITE ARREST TO TEST NEW LAW

In the time it takes to light a flag, the courts have their first cases to test a new law outlawing the burning of Old Glory.

Gregory Johnson, the protester whose 1984 flag burning led the Supreme Court to legalize the act, was arrested with three other people Monday as they ripped and burned American flags on the steps of the Capitol.Capitol policemen tore pieces of a shredded flag from the hands of one demonstrator who lit the first flag.

The other protesters unfurled flags and set them afire as all four chanted, "burn baby burn" before policemen aimed fire extinguishers at the burning remnants, bathing the scene in white smoke.

They invited the arrest to protest the Flag Protection Act of 1989, the statute that took effect only Saturday. The protesters were charged with violating the new statute, demonstrating without a permit and disorderly conduct.

They were transferred to the custody of city police and were held in jail pending arraignment.

Nancy Kent, speaking for the group, made clear they intended to test the law Congress passed following the Supreme Court decision last June that flag burning as a political protest is protected speech under the First Amendment.