(KCPW News) A Utah State University student is off the hook for a 4th of July protest where he and his friends wrote on an American flag and carried it through a Hyrum city parade. A sheriff’s deputy threatened Justin Jerez with a class B misdemeanor citation under a Utah law that predates a U.S. Supreme Court decision protecting flag desecration as free speech. Cache County Deputy Attorney Spencer Walsh says even though that law it still on the books, based on the Supreme Court ruling, writing on a flag is legal and the state law is unconstitutional.
“My assumption is that either they’re very busy with other matters or they just feel like it might send the wrong message if they were to take it off the books,” he says. But based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, it’s clear that it’s political speech and the citation should not have been issued, so we’re not going to prosecute this case.”
The flag was upside down and had the words “Children of Debt, Inheritors of War,” written in black marker. Walsh says it obviously raised some eyebrows.
“I know that several people at the parade took exception to comments that they were making and then obviously what they had done to the flag.” Walsh says. “I know it was offensive to several of the people at the parade. I feel like it was probably in some poor taste but the First Amendment does give them the right to do so.”
A sheriff’s deputy told Jerez and his friends to leave the parade, the LoganHerald-Journal reports, and later told him over the phone to expect a court summons.