An Air Force veteran and former Playboy model was arrested for taking a U.S. flag from a university campus protesters who were trampling on it.
Michelle Manhart, 38, was arrested by police at Valdosta State University, Georgia, after she grabbed the flag and refused to return it to the student demonstrators.
Video footage of the incident, which took place on Friday, has captured Manhart struggling with the officers, who force her to the ground after she refuses to let go of the flag. (Scroll down for the video.)
1. Manhart, 38, is shown, left, refusing to release a flag on which protesters were trampling. In the right-hand photo she is seen being arrested at Valdosta State University in Georgia.
The footage shows Manhart surrounded by protesters on the campus, who demand that she return their flag. Manhart responds that the flag belongs to “the entire United States”.
Campus police attempt to convince the veteran to drop the flag, however Manhart, a former training sergeant who served in Kuwait, refuses to comply.
Manhart spoke to The Valdosta Daily Times about the incident. She said:
I did not want anything like this, but I got a call from a student who told me that the flag was on the ground, and they were walking on it.
I was just going over there to pick up the flag off the ground. I donΓÇÖt know what their cause is, but I went to pick it up because it doesnΓÇÖt deserve to be on the ground.
2. Manhart came to the campus because she heard students were walking on the flag, as seen below.
If your cause is racism then find some white people and walk on them.
But to walk on the flag is walking on our symbol of freedom. You have the freedom to do what you are doing because of it. I’m not fighting against them. I’m fighting against the way they are going about it.
It is unclear what the demonstrators were protesting against. They refused to answer reporters’ questions about their cause.
The Daily Times reports that the group didn’t want to press charges against Manhart. However, the police have given her a trespass warning, which bans her from the campus.
3. Manhart was once a Staff Sergeant at the San Antonio Air Force training camp (right), but was demoted when she appeared nude in Playboy magazine. She is shown left holding a copy of the issue containing her spread.
This is not the first time Manhart has come under fire for standing up for her beliefs. In 2007, the veteran made national headlines — and lost her job — after she posed nude for Playboy magazine.
Explicit pictures from Playboy’s February 2007 issue show then-Sergeant Manhart in various provocative poses, both with and without her military uniform.
Once Air Force bosses learned of the story, they relieved her of her duties at the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
Manhart was later demoted and eventually left the Air Force. However, she told reporters at the time:
I didn’t do anything wrong, so I didn’t think it would be a major issue.
That brought an end to her 14 years of service.
4. Video footage of the incident, which took place on Friday, has captured Manhart struggling with the officers, who force her to the ground after she refuses to let go of the flag.
Manhart later appeared in other editions of Playboy, making the cover of the Mexican one, and posed for animal rights group PETA in an anti-fur campaign.
According to The Daily Times, Manhart now intends to hold a pro-military counter-demonstration in the town on Wednesday.
Responding to the incident, Valdosta State University’s president Dr. William McKinney said that he disapproves of the flag-trampling, but recognizes the protesters’ right to express themselves in that way if they choose. He said:
The American flag represents everything that is best about our country. As the Supreme Court has held, one of those things is the right to free speech, which includes the right to disrespect even the symbol of our country.
While I firmly disagree with the actions of the protesters, I understand their right to protest.
Source: The Valdosta Daily Times.
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