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Indiana Man arrested in burning of U.S. flag

David H. Stout, 49, of Noblesville was charged Monday
with flag desecration and resisting law enforcement.
NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (AP) -- An Indiana man accused of
burning an American flag behind his home has been arrested,
despite rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court that have said flag-burning is
an exercise of free speech.

David H. Stout, 49, of Noblesville was charged Monday
with flag desecration and resisting law enforcement. He was
being held Tuesday at the Hamilton County Jail on a $9,000 bond.

Stout was arrested Sunday after police found him lying
beside a burning flag in an alley behind his home.

Indiana is among 48 states that still have a law
against flag desecration on the books, even though the U.S. Supreme Court has
twice said flag-burning is a constitutionally protected form of
expression.

Stout told a neighbor who tried to stop the burning
that he could burn his flag if he wanted. The neighbor called police.

Stout is accused of throwing a lighted firecracker at
a police officer and struggling with police when they took him into
custody.

Hamilton County Deputy Prosecutor Wendy Petersen filed
the charges against Stout.

"Our particular statute has not been challenged,"
Petersen told The Indianapolis Star. "We still have flag desecration on
the books, although we may certainly come up against that
(constitutional) argument if we continue to prosecute Mr. Stout."

Both charges against Stout are misdemeanors, each
carrying maximum penalties of one year in prison and a $5,000
fine upon conviction.

Petersen agreed that the surge of flag-waving since
the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks may have created a new sensitivity
to flag desecration.

"I can't comment on what the officers were thinking at
the time, but probably a report of flag burning would be taken more
seriously because of the environment," she said
 
 

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