SWANSEA (CBS) – A Swansea man is appealing the fine he received after organizing a Patriots jersey burning protest.
The rally was a protest against some of the players “taking a knee” at a game. The Swansea man appealed the fines he was hit with, but found out Friday that a hearing officer only reduced the amount he owes. But Mark Shane says this is a free speech issue, and he’s not done yet.
It was the end of September when Shane encouraged people to come to his Swansea home and burn all manner of Patriots gear. Shane was outraged that some of the Pats took a knee during a game to protest social injustice. Shane was protesting that protest.
“It was clearly a protest on the NFL kneeling down and disrespecting the National Anthem and disrespecting the flag and veterans,” he says.
But the Swansea fire chief warned Shane before his gathering that he would be in violation of the fire code if he held his event. “We decided those warnings were not valid and constitutionally legal,” Shane says.
So the town hit Shane with $400 in fines. On Friday, the results of a November hearing were released lowering the fines by $100.
“We don’t plan to pay the fine. Not a penny,” says Shane. He says what he and the others did was protected speech. “We believe it’s a First Amendment right, the right to free speech. The Supreme Court has already ruled that you can burn a flag. It’s a sad day in this country if you can burn an American flag and you can’t burn a football jersey,” Shane says.
But the town argues Shanes’ gathering was unsafe, and that fire pits can’t be used for the kind of items that were burned. Shane plans to appeal the decision.
The attorney representing Swansea says he’s not surprised that another appeal is in the works, and that such an appeal is Shane’s right.