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Woman Arrested For Torching American Flag That Was Part Of 9/11 Memorial Tribute

An Arlington police officer spotted 22-year-old Kayla Caniff setting the flag ablaze on a Route 66 overpass.

Arlington, VA – A woman has been arrested for torching an American flag that was hanging on an overpass on Route 66 near the Pentagon.

The large flag was one of many displayed on area overpasses as part of a Sept. 11 memorial, the Washington Examiner reported.

Just before midnight on Aug. 29, an Arlington police officer spotted 22-year-old Kayla Caniff lighting a flag ablaze as it was hanging from a chain link fence on the North Stafford Street overpass, according to WPCG.

He arrested Caniff on one count of destruction of property, and she was later released on her own recognizance, the Washington Examiner reported.

The following day, Arlington County firefighters unfurled American flags on 16 overpasses along Interstate 66 in honor of the victims of the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks, FOX News reported.

They also placed an enormous American flag at the Fire Training Academy, according to WPGC.

On Aug. 26, officers arrested another Virginia woman for destroying American flags that were on display outside over a dozen residences in Annandale and Falls Church, WTTG reported.

Maria Arif, 39, went from home to home on foot, then tore down the flags before she mutilated and destroyed them.

Lights and other yard decorations were also destroyed, according to the Annandale Blog.

“The victims started contacting the police after a large number of flags over the course of a few days were being vandalized in the neighborhood,” Fairfax County Police Department spokesman Trevor Steranko told WMAL. “The neighborhood had come together and pretty much identified her and when police were in the neighborhood, the community was able to point her out.”

Arif has been charged with larceny, two counts of mutilating a U.S. flag, and two counts of destruction of property, WTTG reported.

She was booked into the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, and has since been released on bond, according to a Fairfax County Police Department press release.

Another Virginia resident was arrested on Independence Day for setting an American flag ablaze in a Walmart parking lot.

Cell phone footage recorded by a Walmart employee in Tabb showed the suspect, later identified as 23-year-old Mitchell Lee Stauffer, as he rummaged through the trunk of his car while parked in the driving lane in front of the store.

Prior to the start of the video, Stauffer had already thrown an American flag onto the pavement and doused it with gasoline, the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office (YPSO) explained in a Facebook post.

One of the bystanders told someone off-camera to call 911, just as Stauffer bent down and lit the flag on fire, the video showed.

The flag immediately burst into flames, at which point Stauffer yelled about not giving “a s–t if you die.”

He slammed his trunk closed and left the scene, leaving the burning American flag on the ground behind him.

Bystanders noted the license plate on the suspect’s vehicle, and he was later arrested for burning an object in a public place with the intent to intimidate, the YPSO said.

“The burning of our great American Flag is very offensive to most people including me,” York-Poquoson Sheriff J.D. “Danny” Diggs said in the post. “That being said, the courts have ruled that act alone is an expression of free speech and not per se illegal.”

Stauffer was not arrested for “his First Amendment Right to burn the flag,” but because he did so in a public place with the intent of intimidating others.

He faces one to five years in prison if he is convicted, the Daily Press reported.

“This charge is appropriate under the Code of Virginia,” Sheriff Diggs said in the post. “It is fortunate that no one was injured today.”

Holly Matkin - September Tue, 2019


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