Homeless Man Sets American Flag on Fire

Says He Was Protesting Lack of Support Services for War Veterans

Tuesday, December 11, 2012
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Gary Evan Matthew Working
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Gary Evan Matthew Working

A 25-year-old homeless man from Alaska and familiar to Santa Barbara police was arrested Monday evening after he took down the American flag from the federal bankruptcy court on State Street and set it on fire. Gary Evan Matthew Working, who’s been living at Casa Esperanza and recently spent time in Ventura, was taken into custody at around 6:30 p.m. and booked in County Jail for arson. His bail is $50,000.

According to police, Working used a lighter to sever the rope that raises the flag and keeps it in place. Once the rope broke he lowered the flag, walked westbound toward the courthouse’s parking lot with it dragging on the ground behind him, and lit it on fire. One of the witnesses, said authorities, told Working that she was calling the police, to which he reportedly replied, “I’m not hurting anybody. Go ahead.”

Working also reportedly said that he “was in the war,” that he had nothing, and that he was now homeless, police said. He told investigators he burned the flag because he was upset at the Oval Office for not offering more support to veterans who have returned home. Police said they were unable to verify Working’s veteran status.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Isn't the flag supposed to be taken down at sunset?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 11, 2012 at 5:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I've read that 1/3 of the homeless are veterans. What a disgusting commentary on how the U.S. thanks its vets--and treats its population in general.

There is no excuse why the richest country in the world has people sleeping outside in the cold.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
December 11, 2012 at 7:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Ken: To answer your question if the flag has a light shining on it it's ok to leave it up at night.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
December 11, 2012 at 7:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

While I fully agree that our veterans should be entitled to substantial assistance (as well as our respect and gratitude), I don'tthink that desecration of the flag is an appropriate means of making this point. Sounds like this guy wasn't even a vet.

winddancer1562 (anonymous profile)
December 12, 2012 at 7:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

By virtue of his pyrotechnic prowess, he can at least take full credit for success in solving his temporary housing dilemma.

Draxor (anonymous profile)
December 12, 2012 at 9:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

He makes a valid point although I wouldn't say it is the Administration that is to blame. The whole burning the flag thing wasn't good, but it sure did get people's attention.

Num1UofAn (anonymous profile)
December 12, 2012 at 11:04 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Good for him, I hope the Judge throws this out on the grounds of free speech and charges him with simple vandalism or defacement of property under $100

For every one person who dies in our overseas wars, 20 vets commit suicide. These wars are costing us dearly, it is absolutely this administrations fault that we are still involved. We need to end our overseas empire immediately. The people I see who are most vocal about this seem to be libertarian leaning Republicans.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
December 12, 2012 at 12:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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