Charleston police plan charges after flag burning

Charleston police will cite protesters who torched flags in Marion Square on June 21 for open burning and climbing on a public monument.

Police observed several white men standing on the John C. Calhoun monument waving Confederate flags around 6:20 p.m., according to the report. It’s against a city ordinance to climb on the monument, and signs are posted.

When officers arrived, about 30 people were standing around watching two men spraying two Confederate flags with Off! bug spray and lighting them on fire, according to the report. Officers told a representative of the group they weren’t allowed to climb on the monument, and they got down. Officers stayed back from the crowd during the protest, planning to get names after the event so charges could be filed later, according to the incident report.

After the Confederate flags were burned and speakers finished, a man took an American flag out of a bookbag, sprayed it with bug spray and pulled out a lighter to ignite it. Deputy Chief Tony Elder tried to warn the man that open burning was prohibited, but the man kept moving away from Elder trying to light the flag, according to the report. Elder and another officer took the flag from the man and started moving away from the crowd, but another man grabbed it back.

Elder told the officers to move away from the crowd. The protesters gathered around the monument again, and the man who originally tried to burn the flag managed to light it on fire, according to the report.

Two of the officers were wearing the new VieVue body cameras and recorded portions of the incident, according to the report. Another officer recorded the man burning the American flag on his patrol car’s camera.

Police released a photo Tuesday of a white man wearing a cap they said was involved in burning the flag. He was identified Wednesday as Jason Slade. Slade declined to comment about the incident.

Melissa Boughton contributed to this report. Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.