I Was Attacked for Protesting Flag Day. I’ll Be Burning the Flag on July 4th

by Drea Shadburne

| revcom.us


Editors’ Note: We are reposting an article that originally appeared on medium.com, June 21, and forwarded to us by readers and supporters of Revcom.us in Philadelphia.

I was assaulted by fascists while protesting Flag Day. The police shook their hands and sent them on their way. I am not going to stop desecrating the flag.

My name is Drea Shadburne. I’m a member of the Revolution Club, and a supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). Our aim is to organize people now for the time when we can overthrow this system through an actual revolution, and to build a new society based on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America—authored by the leader of the revolution, Bob Avakian.

Here in the “birthplace of America,” myself and others decided to hold a demonstration on Flag Day in Center City across from City Hall during rush hour. I was a part of this because I wanted to help pierce through what I see as the suffocating, unjustifiable patriotism in a country that is rapidly descending into full-on fascism. I wanted to be a part of helping people confront what America was really founded upon (the slavery of African people stolen from their homelands, the genocide of Native Americans, and the massive land theft from Mexico and Indigenous territories through wars of conquest) and the endless horrors that it perpetuates upon the masses of people here and around the world to this day. I wanted to fight to help people grasp the reality of all this and to invite them to join us in desecrating this society’s most sacred symbol—the American Flag.

We began by unfurling the flag upon the ground and standing on top of it, holding a sign declaring “America Was NEVER Great! We Need to OVERTHROW This System!”, and agitating through a loudspeaker. Many people supported us, with some joining in by stomping on the flag and even spitting on it. Some were in the middle, perhaps puzzled by our actions but, on some level, respected our right to protest even if they disagreed with our message. And certainly, many others vehemently rebuked us and hated what we were doing. Most of the latter group felt it was sufficient to condemn us verbally. However, two men decided that we should be physically assaulted.

A burly, middle-aged white man came from behind and tackled one of the revolutionaries to my side, knocking him into me. The assailant grabbed the flag we were standing on and tried to make a run for it—all of which he had his accomplice film and has since been uploaded to his Facebook page (which has amassed hundreds of shares, likes and comments). They left out of the video what happened immediately after, for reasons that will become obvious.

We quickly chased him down and struggled to retrieve the flag. A crowd of onlookers quickly amassed around us and pulled out their phones to film what was going down. Many were shocked to see that him and his fellow patriot began punching us in our faces, given the fact that three out of four of us protesting are women. Many from the crowd furiously called out this blatant act of misogynistic violence. A minority in the crowd even cheered them on. The man who led the assault—fueled with red, white and blue, woman-hating rage—began howling about how we could not disrespect his flag. No matter that this was a peaceful protest, that he initiated the assault in a premeditated manner, and in fact he had stolen something that belonged to us. The police arrived shortly after, shook hands with the men who had assaulted us (see around 1:28), and sent them on their way as they proceeded to question us!

I want to pull the lens back a bit here. To be clear, I care more about doing what is right than the “rights” as such granted to me by a constitution authored by slave masters and exploiters. But what is the current state of the right to protest in this country, and where do things seem to be heading? Trump has repeatedly called for the overturning of Supreme Court precedent that protects flag desecration as protected free speech, which was established in the case of Texas v. Johnson in 1989, and affirmed again just as recently as two days ago in a case involving the very same Gregory Johnson. He has repeatedly called for violence against protesters at his many Nuremberg-style rallies. Long before what happened to me that Friday, fascist thugs loyal to Trump have been acting upon his directives all over the country. Why shouldn’t we be protesting against the piling injustices happening all around us?

A Call to Action has been published on revcom.us (the voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA) titled, “JULY 4, 2019: IMAGINE A WORLD WITHOUT AMERICA”, declaring to all: “we invite you not only to ‘conceive of a world without America’, but to fight and work for that world. On that day, this flag so soaked in the blood of ‘barbarity and hypocrisy’ will burn in symbolic places around this country. This will be a bold statement of truth and a declaration that we have had enough; and a clarion call to revolution and the emancipation of ALL humanity.

That is the flag that these thugs were willing to beat women half their size for. That is the flag that revolutionaries like me, who seek nothing less than the emancipation of all humanity from all oppression and exploitation, are going to burn on July 4th. All those who can dare to conceive a world without America and everything it really stands for, and are working to bring a world without America into being, will be setting the American flag on fire.

I cannot do anything but fight to put a stop to this nightmare we live in, and I will continue to trample upon and set fire to the sacred relics of this vicious beast of a country. On July 4th this year, will you join me?



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