Four men were arrested early Friday after setting two American flags on fire just feet from the Occupy Charlotte encampment in North Carolina.
Burning the flag isn't illegal, but the four were charged with careless use of a fire, a misdemeanor, McClatchy Newspapers reported. Police said they were charged because they didn't use a fire pit.
Local police initially said they weren't sure whether the four were affiliated with the Occupy Charlotte movement, but several people at the site said at least two were Occupy Charlotte protesters and that one was the group's spokesman.
Local CBS affiliate WBTV-TV said two American flags were burned, though initial reports said it had just been one.
According to the station, officers said they noticed something being lit on fire directly in front of the camp, located on the lawn area of City Hall. Police surrounded the area and detained the men while firefighters knocked out the blaze. The fire caused about $30 worth of damage to landscaping at the site.
It wasn't until after the flames were out that officials realized flags had been burned, WBTV reported.
Police said the men claimed they were burning the flag in protest. According to WBTV, the men complained loudly while being arrested and called the officers names.
Occupy Charlotte released a statement to local NBC affiliate WCNC-TV saying the flag burning does not reflect the people or message of the group.