Election results spark flag burning outside Federal Building

EMOTIONS SPARKED: In protest of President-elect Donald Trump, Asheville resident Rik Shell burned a flag outside of the federal building on Thursday, Nov. 10. Photo by Dan Hesse

On Thursday morning, Nov. 10, Asheville resident Rik Shell burned a handmade American flag outside of the city’s Federal Building.

Shell told Xpress the move was a protest against President-elect Donald Trump. “It’s got my stomach tied in knots. We don’t know what he’s going to do, but from the way he’s spoken about people of color, women, immigrants … I don’t expect him to respect the Constitution and the things we hold dear as Americans,” said Shell.

Shell says his family made the flag to take to President Barack Obama’s first inauguration, “To us, it’s a symbol of hope and pride in our country,” he said.

“It is time to respectfully lay it to rest. I wanted to do it here in front of the federal building to show the newly elected leadership that we are not going to stand for any taking away of the rights, dignity and personhood of all people.”

Shell and another protester folded the flag, in ceremonial style, and then he paced it in a metal container with a fire extinguisher nearby. “It’s with a heavy heart that we lay this flag to rest. If we get a new flag to symbolize the new leadership of this nation it would have to be polyester, made in China, cheap and from Wal-Mart,” he proclaimed before striking a match to light the flag on fire.

Shell and another protester fold the flag before placing it in a metal container to burn.
Shell and another protester fold the flag before placing it in a metal container to burn. Photo by Dan Hesse

The flag never became fully engulfed by fire and mostly smoked for a minute before Asheville Fire Marshall Karen Schuart extinguished the fire.

Schuart also issued Shell a $250 citation for violating Buncombe County’s current burn ban, noting she could have fined him more, but was taking into consideration Shell’s cooperation.

Two Asheville Police officers also attended. Sgt. Evan Coward told Xpress he got wind of the event and reached out to Shell so he wouldn’t be surprised by the attendance of law enforcement. “If everybody’s on the same page it’s safer and better for everybody,” Coward told Xpress, also noting Shell would not face any charges related to burning the flag.

The flag never completely went up in flames and mostly smoldered before being extinguished.
The flag never completely went up in flames and mostly smoldered before being extinguished. Photo by Dan Hesse

Ultimately, the flag burning took place without incident. Members of the media, law enforcement and a few onlookers gathered to watch on the steps of the federal building.

The sidewalk in front of the Federal Building, where Shell burned the flag, is a public right-of-way and is considered city property.

Asheville Fire Marshall Karen Schuart extinguishes the flag fire. She also fined Richard Shell $250 due to Buncombe County's current burn ban.
Asheville Fire Marshall Karen Schuart extinguishes the flag fire. She also fined Richard Shell $250 due to Buncombe County’s current burn ban. Photo by Dan Hesse



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About Dan Hesse
I grew up outside of Atlanta and moved to WNC in 2001 to attend Montreat College. After college, I worked at NewsRadio 570 WWNC as an anchor/reporter and covered Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners starting in 2004. During that time I also completed WCU's Master of Public Administration program. You can reach me at dhesse@mountainx.com.

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41 thoughts on “Election results spark flag burning outside Federal Building

    • hauntedheadnc

      Says someone upset that someone else burned a flag.

      Free speech is free speech. You can wipe your dog’s rear with the American flag if you so choose.

      • Fin

        Never said it wasn’t his right nice faux outrage thou, he can’t help it he’s a member of the cupcake generation that built nothing and demands everything. Crybabys.

        • boatrocker

          So he’s a crybaby for exercising a Constitutionally guaranteed right?
          How does that work again?
          Would that make the NRA crybabies (correct spelling by the way) for exercising the 2nd?

    • Fin, No just a nation tired of listing to the crybabies. It’s time to make them grow up and learn to change their own diapers and the media doing anything for headlines

  1. Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

    I wonder why this guy didn’t do that when his heroes Clinton and Obama destroyed two nations (Libya and Syria)?

  2. Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

    “It is time to respectfully lay it to rest. I wanted to do it here in front of the federal building to show the newly elected leadership that we are not going to stand for any taking away of the rights, dignity and personhood of all people.

    Yet he was willing to let his heroes take away the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and create millions of refugees.

    • Jake

      Considering that enormous assumptions you are making about Mr. Shell, I find your anonymous self-identification as a “social justice warrior” hilariously ironic. Thank you for the laugh!

      • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

        It is a laugh and I snagged you. Read my name again.

        • Jake

          Ohhhhh… sorry, my mistake. We spell your name differently. I spell it T-r-o-l-l.

  3. pinsker

    Hey losers, Canada’s that way. You Bozo’s just don’t realize how good you have it here. Try burning the Russian flag in Red Square and sww where you wind up, Hear it’s colder in Siberia than Toronto.

  4. Scotty Morgan

    Shell obviously has never done anything to defend this country because if he had he would think differently and have love and respect for the flag. He looks like the scumbags that protested the Vietnam war.I compare him to what accumulates on the bottom of the chicken house . A word of warning !!! Don’t mess with my flag near me because I will give you the opportunity to kick an 83 year old mans butt!!!

    • boatrocker

      Last I checked, burning the flag is legal, thanks to that pesky 1st amendment. I think you’ll be seeing plenty of that soon enough along with
      plenty of American flags being flown upside down as a sign of distress too. Guess if you don’t like that 1st amendment,
      you can always move to a country that doesn’t permit dissent.

      And for the record, at no time in America’s history was our Bill of Rights ever threatened, directly or indirectly, so your service as it relates
      to the 1st amendment is a moot point.

      Burn on, dissenters.

      • ApePeeD

        Burning the flag *is* legal, however, there is a *burn* restriction going on because of the drought.

        It’s like saying you have freedom of speech, but you can’t yell *FIRE* in a crowded theater.

    • henry

      I am a veteran who, along with many other fellow veterans after honorable and awarded discharges, protested the Viet Nam War. We respected the flag and never thought about disrespecting it. Your comment is narrow minded to not consider that Vets would be war protesters. This man has a right to burn our flag without being harmed, even though it hurts to see that done.

  5. Deplorable Infidel

    absurd juvenile behavior… so will he be leaving the country ?

    • boatrocker

      Nope- he’ll be staying here and practicing the art of dissent, Tory.

      • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

        The art of dissent: damage others’ property and interfere with their lives without consequences.

        • boatrocker

          Who’s property or lives were damaged for that happening on a public sidewalk and the AFD properly extinguishing the fire? His $250 fine for violating the burn ordinance- was he quoted for objecting to it? Crickets….

          Nice try.

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            I was thinking big picture, not this guy..

    • Lulz

      Of course not LOL. These fools couldn’t make it in the real world. Maybe they can march with Boobwell during the next incarnation of OWS. This idiot led a line of people just like Shell. Yet at the same time, Boobsy is in favor of sanctuary city status. If they were smart, they’d be chasing the little commie sellout instead of following him around like morons.

      • boatrocker

        Don’t talk about the incoming POTUS’s staunchest ally Russia that way- we’re supposed to be building bridges of winning bigly with our new puppetmasters.

        • Pie

          Boatrocker why do you have to respond to everyone’s comments? Keyboard warriors unite. And when you comment on everyone you reach Troll status. Very hard to take you seriously. Trump is a result of people like you always trying to tell people they are wrong instead of trying to engage and talk. Good job, enjoy the next four years.

          • boatrocker

            What a silly question to ask- it’s a forum. I’ll respond to any comments if I have the time- even yours.
            Whether you take me seriously or not, well I can sleep well.
            And yea, blame me for Trump. I didn’t vote for either of those clowns.

            Do you deny that Russia has hacked the DNC’s websites according to the same non partisan FBI that recommended reopening the Clinton investigation as to her emails (hint- the FBI cannot similtaneously be controlled by HRC and advocate pursuing an investigation into any alleged wrongdoings on her part). Also, Russia has admitted to being in constant communications with the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential campaign.

            Sour grapes much?

  6. Son of an Overmountain Man

    Sigh, so predictable for AVL…libtards gonna libtard (and expect sympathetic media coverage taboot)

    You can tell from the picture they don’t even know how to properly fold the flag and the DA couldn’t even properly burn the thing anyway. haha! Obviously he is of the “participation trophy” generation…

    • boatrocker

      Strange how they are indeed folding the flag correctly and none of the pics show the completely folded flag as you claim.
      Strange also that you don’t know that the proper way to dispose of an American flag that is too worn to display is by burning it.

      Happy Armistice Day.

  7. AVL LVR

    All those people protesting “Not my President” are right. Their president is in Mexico or Pakistan.

    Hispanics like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are a tremendous asset to America. I’m calling on more of them to trade their Mexican flags for American ones and embrace American culture.

    • boatrocker

      Can local drivers trade their Irish, Welsh, Scottish and other flags on their car for the ol Stars n Stripes too?

      • boatrocker

        Oh yeah, and the battle flag of the Army of Northern Va, which most uneducated morons incorrectly call the Rebel flag- which never even flew over the confederate capitol. That would go a long way to embracing American culture.

  8. Don

    very thoughtful and respectful protest. Good for them. I think a few more protests are in order…. for like the next four years. I’m quite sure the rabble and the mob (Hamilton warned us this would happen if we gave them the vote…. George Washington concurred) will be up in arms -literally- over the protests.

  9. AVL LVR

    Now the Democrats are wanting to secede from the Union. Again this is a classic and historical Democratic response. As I said before, the elitist foundation of the Democrats never ceased. Like Brazil and other Latin American countries which had slavery, they merely morphed into its current form. Whereas Republican strongholds, wealth inequality is low and their is a strong middle class. Democratic strongholds like San Fransisco exhibit exceptional inequality. The elite democrats rule over the poor stupefied masses fed gross propaganda. Plantation politics is still alive and well.

    • AVL LVR

      The wealth inequality in Republican states are in Democratic areas. States like Utah with few Democrats are more equal throughout.

    • boatrocker

      As I have the day off, I think I’ll treat myself by picking apart all the altright wacko posts.

      Which political party during the past years has engaged in the following behaviors- yep the GOP
      Succession from the Union? check
      advocating of another civil war- check
      advocating armed rebellion if their candidate is not elected by elected officals- check
      threatening the current POTUS and HRC candidate with violence with images of them in crosshairs- check
      ‘I hope he fails’- check
      ‘Not my president’
      ‘Id rather have an African Lion in the Whitehouse than a lyin African’- check
      advocating hangings, for an HRC candidate- check
      advocating violence against protesters (on film) at GOP rallies-check
      offering to pay legal fees of GOP supporters convicted of violence against protesters- check
      advocating of enemy governments to commit espionage via hacking into DNC websites (on film)- check

      Yea, you ‘winners’ sure are a patriotic bunch, aren’t you? What will you say when the shoe’s on the other foot?

  10. Ever notice every time there is a protest of any kind in Asheville you the same faces keep popping up!
    Now there is a real story “The down fall of Asheville NC, the home of the cry baby club” grow up get a real job!

  11. We know exactly what Clinton was going to do; start a nuclear war with Russia, so not knowing was the best argument out there for Trump.

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