A Philadelphia Independence Day celebration was interrupted by a group of activists from the Revolutionary Communist Party, who hold far-left ideologies. They burned an American flag during the event. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro were present to commemorate America’s birthday in the city where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776.
At the city’s Celebration of Freedom event, a small number of radical left agitators caused disruption by using air horns and a bullhorn to shout over the speakers. The group, consisting of six individuals, formed a chain by holding hands. One member of the group took out an American flag and proceeded to ignite it. Footage captured by Ford Fischer of News2Share documented the incident.
The group encouraged the crowd to join them in pursuing a genuine revolution.
VIDEO THREAD: This morning, members of the Revolutionary Communist Party interrupted the July 4 city Celebration of Freedom event in Philadelphia (where both the governor and mayor spoke) by burning an American flag.— Ford Fischer (@FordFischer) July 4, 2023
They advocated the crowd join them for "a real revolution." pic.twitter.com/lUw9gtlxAV
Following their demonstration, the group was briefly taken into custody by the police. However, they were eventually released since the act of flag burning has been recognized as a constitutionally protected form of protest by the Supreme Court. Although a tote bag caught fire during the incident, the group received a warning for this unintended consequence.
On June 21, 1989, the Supreme Court delivered a ruling in the case of Texas v. Johnson, establishing that burning the American flag is a lawful expression of protest, protected by the First Amendment. The court’s decision was a result of a narrow 5-4 vote in favor of Gregory Lee Johnson, a protester who had engaged in flag burning.
The majority opinion in the case was authored by Justice William Brennan. Justices Anthony Kennedy, Thurgood Marshall, Harry Blackmun, and Antonin Scalia were among those who supported and joined the majority decision.
“Johnson was convicted for engaging in expressive conduct. The State’s interest in preventing breaches of the peace does not support his conviction because Johnson’s conduct did not threaten to disturb the peace. Nor does the State’s interest in preserving the flag as a symbol of nationhood and national unity justify his criminal conviction for engaging in political expression,” Brennan stated.