Woman Charged with Arson After Burning Confederate Flag

A woman is now facing charges for burning a Confederate flag at a local park. Some people are saying it's free speech--the police say it's dangerous.

The flag burning happened on July 4 at Soda Springs Park. Organizers for the event planned for the burning to follow a "peaceful protest," according to their Facebook page #BurnTheConfederate.

Patricia Cameron, 32, was allegedly part of the group and told our partners at the Colorado Springs Gazette that she believes the flag represents hate.

A video was taken of the burning, showing the group members pouring an accelerant on a flag being held over a small grill. Several people had gathered in the pavilion in the park. As a few participants play instruments, a man is seen walking up and lighting the flag on fire, then walking away. The flag is on fire for a few seconds before it goes out.

Police say what they did "posed a risk of danger to the property and citizens of Mantiou Springs, as there were multiple people in the area."

Cameron was ticketed and released on Wednesday night and is now facing fourth-degree misdemeanor arson charges. Police say they know who the second suspect is and are trying to locate that person. They said they are also looking for a third suspect whose identity they do not know.

The Manitou Springs Police Department declined an interview but sent a press release that said:

"The Manitou Springs Police Department strongly supports citizens who wish to employ their first amendment rights. However, the Manitou Springs Police Department would urge those who employ those rights, to do so in a safe manner. Citizens should keep in mind that there are rules, regulations, and laws in place to safeguard the community and property from risk of danger."

11 News looked up the ordinances for open fires and open burning in Manitou Springs. It reads:


6.34.010 - High fire danger—Declaration.
At such time as the Fire Chief determines that a high fire danger exists, the Fire Chief shall declare the existence of a high fire danger and announce the imposition of restrictions on open fires and open burning. In the event that the Fire Chief is unavailable, he/she will appoint in writing to the City Administrator a Designee who is empowered with the same authority. The declaration of a high fire danger shall be passed on to the City Administer who shall distribute it to all City Employees, the City Council and the Publication of Record.

(Ord. No. 2010, § 1, 10-19-2010; Ord. 0806, § 1, 2006)

6.34.020 - Defined.
Open fires and open burning are, for the purposes of this chapter, defined to mean any outdoor fire, including, but not limited to, campfires, warming fires, charcoal grill fires,fires in wood-burning stoves or grates, fused explosives, and fireworks of all types.

(Ord. 0806, § 2, 2006)

6.34.030 - Prohibited activities.
Open fires and open burning during a period of high fire danger is prohibited. During a period of high fire danger, the smoking of tobacco and other products in cigarettes, cigars or pipes is prohibited outdoors. "Outdoors" is defined to mean any place outside an enclosed structure or vehicle. This restriction shall not apply to Manitou Avenue. The discarding of a lighted cigarette, cigar or pipe tobacco outdoors is also prohibited during a period of high fire danger.

(Ord. No. 2010, § 2, 10-19-2010; Ord. 0806, § 3, 2006)

6.34.040 - Violation—Penalty.
Violation of any provision of this chapter is punishable in accordance with the provisions of Section 1.01.100 of this Code of Ordinances.

(Ord. 0806, § 4, 2006)

6.34.050 - Exemptions.
Restrictions on open fires and open burning do not apply to gas-fueled grills used out-of-doors, nor to fires within liquid-fueled or gas-fueled stoves and fireplaces within buildings, nor to fires in wood-burning stoves and fireplaces within private residences.

(Ord. 0806, § 5, 2006)