Administration

Trump calls for Congress to take action against ‘lowlifes’ who burn American flag

President Trump late Tuesday called for Congress to take action against “lowlifes” who burn the American flag, seeking to put fresh pressure on lawmakers to pursue potential legislation.

“It is ashame [sic] that Congress doesn’t do something about the lowlifes that burn the American Flag. It should be stopped, and now!” Trump tweeted.

The president made a similar pitch during a campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., over the weekend, suggesting a minimum sentence of 1 year in prison for anyone who burns an American flag.

“We ought to come up with legislation that if you burn the American flag you go to jail for one year,” Trump said, pointing to Oklahoma GOP Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford, who were in the crowd.

“We oughta do it. We talk about freedom of speech… but that’s desecration.”

Trump has urged repercussions for flag burning on numerous occasions in the past, including shortly after winning election in 2016. At the time, Trump proposed a year in jail or loss of citizenship as a punishment for burning a flag.

A decades-old Supreme Court ruling found that burning a flag is a protected form of free speech under the First Amendment, but Trump has continued to float the possibility of punishing those who burn the symbol.

The president’s latest call for Congress to take action against individuals who burn the flag comes amid rolling protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the country, with some demonstrators in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday night spotted burning flags.

Authorities have also grappled with demonstrators pushing to remove statues of various controversial figures in D.C., and other parts of the country, with Trump saying earlier Tuesday that he plans to issue an executive order reinforcing existing laws that punish those who vandalize monuments.

The president lauded law enforcement officers while urging “long-term jail sentences” for those who vandalized and tried to pull down a statue of President Andrew Jackson from Lafayette Square across from the White House on Monday night.

“We are looking at long-term jail sentences for these vandals and these hoodlums and the anarchists and agitators, and call them whatever you want,” Trump told reporters. “Some people don’t like that language, but that’s what they are. They’re bad people. They don’t love our country. And they’re not taking down our monuments. I just want to make that clear.”

D.C.’s delegate in Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), said Tuesday she plans to introduce legislation next week to remove the statue of Jackson, who fought in the War of 1812, opposed abolishing slavery and signed the Indian Removal Act. 

Tags Donald Trump Eleanor Holmes Norton flag burning James Lankford

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