You've already been introduced to Ben Haas (here and here), the communications graduate student who planned to burn the American flag on the campus of LSU today. That didn't happen after a group of counter-protesters showed up. Now, the student newspaper The Daily Reveille has gotten an exclusive copy of the remarks Haas planned to share at the protest but never got a chance to recite.
In those remarks, Haas says his protest was supposed to bring attention to "due process" and to "call on LSU and universities across the country to defend basic human rights and avoid putting students into the criminal justice system when it can be taken care of internally." That seems to be a reference to a student last week who was arrested for stealing and burning a university American flag.
"In the name of peace, there will be no flag burning today," he says in the remarks. "This country and the flag that flies over it stands for freedom, democracy, love, peace and the ability to question our government."
You can read them in full below:
"Funny Facebook said that there were only going to be 64 of you. I initially began this flag burning protest to define due process for students and suspected terrorists alike, to call on LSU and universities across the country to defend basic human rights and avoid putting students into the criminal justice system when it can be taken care of internally.
Solidarity means standing with those who are treated as guilty until proven innocent, instead of the other way around. That's what freedom is, standing with those who express their constitutional rights in ways that may be unpopular, especially the accused and the marginalized no matter the consequences.
In the name of peace, there will be no flag burning today. This country and the flag that flies over it stands for freedom, democracy, love, peace and the ability to question our government."
Reveille photographer Adam Vaccarella snapped a picture of the remarks during the protest:
There's also new video from the event. A video report filed by the paper shows counter-protest leader, and student government president, Cody Wells thanking attendees after they gathered en masse:
But the most interesting information now coming from the LSU campus may be that Haas isn't just a graduate student. Additional reporting by the Reveille reveals he also teaches some undergraduate students:
Ryan Nuckolls, agricultural business sophomore, said Haas is one of his instructors, and he spoke to Haas about the burning yesterday. Nuckolls, adorned in American flag attire, said Haas said he was "protesting unfair persecution of Isaac Eslava" — the University student arrested last week for vandalizing and burning a University American flag — because Eslava should be innocent until proven guilty. [Emphasis added]
The crowd, which some numbered in the hundreds, was apparently not made up of just students. "Several community members attended as well," the Reveille says, "including veterans and members of the Baton Rouge Tea Party."
Rebecca Favre Lipe, vice president of the Baton Rouge Tea Party, even gave the outlet a quote: "We have First Amendment rights, but there's also respect."