Ridgewood man saves Old Glory from protesters’ flames
Anti-American group tried to burn the flag in Brooklyn on Wednesday
Posted: Thursday, July 2, 2015 5:41 pm | Updated: 8:15 pm, Thu Jul 2, 2015.
Christopher Barca / Associate Editor | 0 comments
A patriotic Ridgewood resident took matters into his own hands on Wednesday when a group of anti-American protesters tried to reduce Old Glory to ash just days before the nation’s 239th birthday.
Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park was the scene of the heated confrontation, as Disarm NYPD, an anti-cop, anti-American activist group formed in the wake of Eric Garner’s death last year, a group of USA-loving city residents and the Brooklyn-based Hallowed Sons motorcycle club shouted and cursed back and forth over the merits of the United States throughout the evening.
Around 20 Disarm NYC members tossed Old Glory onto a small barbecue grill in front of the Prison Ship Martyr’s Monument — built to honor the 11,500 American prisoners of war who died aboard English prison ships during the Revolutionary War — but it had barely taken the flame when Ridgewood resident John Carroll intervened, pushed an activist to the ground and ripped it off the grill.
“If you’re going to burn the American flag, you’re going to run the risk of running into people like me,” Carroll told NBC News. “I will stand by this flag all the time.”
One of the bikers kicked over the grill shortly after the flag was removed.
Joe Concannon, a retired NYPD captain and Republican candidate for the vacant City Council 23rd District seat in Queens, was at the scene and later tweeted a picture of himself and Carroll shaking hands.
“Queens resident John Carroll rescues the flag from burning flames,” Concannon wrote. “We salute you John!”
In a phone interview with the Chronicle on Thursday, the former cop said the pro-American counter-protesters outnumbered the “disrespectful” flag torchers 10-to-1.
“It’s about respect for the flag, respect for our country and respect for the people fighting in our wars and protecting our streets,” he said. “We know we have an imperfect democracy, but that doesn’t mean you get to disrespect what the flag stands for.”
After the Ridgewood man’s daring rescue of the Stars and Stripes, a group of around three dozen American flag-waving residents, along with the Hallowed Sons, approached the Disarm NYPD members and began screaming at them.
The patriotic counter-protesters sat at the foot of the war memorial and repeatedly sang “God Bless America” as the flag burners, who made up only a fraction of those who said they would attend the event on the group’s Facebook page, called out the names of police brutality victims, according to Brooklyn Magazine.
Police eventually broke up the shouting match, but not before one biker, who goes by the name Burnout, issued a grim warning to the activists.
“Burn a flag and see what happens,” Burnout told DNA Info. “Your head will burn.”
In a Facebook post announcing the flag burning, the group cited racially motivated events such as the Charleston church massacre, saying the gunman and his white supremacist views are products of “state-sponsored terrorism and racialized dehumanization” in America, which both flags represent.
“We do not believe the ideals of America are anything to be revered,” the post reads. “We are building something that will be much better than America. While the so-called Patriots yell that we should just leave, we instead choose to dream.
“We dream of what real freedom looks like,” it continued. “Freedom from paramilitaries occupying our communities, beating and killing our sons and daughters. Freedom from our communities being destroyed by speculative capital of gentrification. Freedom from mass surveillance and freedom from systemic racism. So we will burn the American flag, a symbol of oppression and genocide.”
Disarm NYPD members also torched a Confederate flag, which represents the same corrupt ideals as Old Glory, according to the group.
Concannon, a Bellerose resident who jokingly noted he didn’t recognize any of the bikers from his days on the force, said everything happened in a matter of minutes, but he was able to thank Carroll for saving the flag before he went back home to Ridgewood.
“He was personally offended by it,” he said of Carroll’s opinion of the protesters. “He found out about it and went down there on his own.”
No arrests were made.