According to the Iowa City Press-Citizen, a group of demonstrators set fire to the flags Thursday at a pedestrian mall in Iowa City during what organizers called a protest against racial injustice, social injustice and U.S. imperialism. That's when FedEx driver Matt Uhrin rushed onto the scene with a fire extinguisher to put out the flames.
Photos of protesters burning American flags on the ped mall. pic.twitter.com/84F7wzdmUB— Stephen GruberMiller (@sgrubermiller) January 26, 2017
A now-viral video that captured the moment – and the clash that followed – has been viewed tens of thousands of times on social media.
FedEx tweeted Saturday morning in support of Uhrin.
“We have reviewed the matter in Iowa City involving driver Matt Uhrin,” the tweet said. “He remains a FedEx employee & we have no plans to change his status.”
We have reviewed the matter in Iowa City involving driver Matt Uhrin. He remains a FedEx employee & we have no plans to change his status.— FedEx (@FedEx) January 28, 2017
Police said two people were arrested at the rally and charged with violating the city's public burn ordinance, the Press-Citizen reported. The group claimed the protest was within their First Amendment rights, but officials said the protesters did not have the proper permits to start a fire.
KGAN reported Feb. 14 that Uhrin was honored by the Marion American Legion for his actions.
"You can protest all you want but don't disgrace the flag," Uhrin said. "For somebody that's the memory of their loved one that never came home. You're not disgracing the flag, you're disgracing the memory and it's not right."
The Legion gave Uhrin an honorary plaque, part of which contained the message, "you placed your respect for the flag of the United States ahead of your own personal safety. The American Legion salutes your bravery, service and patriotism."
The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this story.
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