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Two teenagers charged in July 4 Fishers flag burning

Posted at 6:55 PM, Jul 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-08 18:55:33-04

FISHERS — Two teenagers were charged Monday for allegedly setting fire to an American flag on the Fourth of July at the Nickel Plate District Amphitheater.

George Drake and Christopher Graham will each face four felony counts of arson, along with misdemeanors for criminal mischief and flag desecration.

The cloth flag that hung at the back of the stage at the amphitheater received significant damage after it was set on fire late Thursday, according to Fishers Police public information officer Tom Weger.

Fishers flag.jpg
An American flag at the Nickel Plate District Amphiteater in Fishers was burned overnight, city officials said on Friday, July 5, 2019.

Small fires were also reported in an elevator at the Edge Parking Garage and at Sunblest Apartments.

Drake and Graham, both 18, were found and arrested Friday afternoon in the area of 116th Street and Lantern Road.

The United States Supreme Court ruled in 1989 and reaffirmed in 1990 that burning an American flag is not illegal and is considered "symbolic speech" under the First Amendment. However, under Indiana law, a person who "mutilates, defaces, burns, or tramples any United States flag, standard, or ensign commits flag desecration" and can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.