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American Flag Burning
updated: Dec 11, 2012, 5:52 PM

Source: Santa Barbara Police Department

Gary Evan Matthew Working, age 25, of Santa Barbara was arrested for arson after setting fire to the United States flag at the Bankruptcy Court.

On December 10, 2012 at 6:27 p.m., officers from the Santa Barbara Police Department responded to a call of a subject attempting to steal the United States flag that was flying at the US Bankruptcy Court at 1415 State Street. Prior to their arrival the reporting party advised that the subject was setting the flag on fire. Upon arrival the officers took the suspect, Working, into custody and extinguished the fire with a fire extinguisher from one of the police vehicles. The reporting party and another witness were contacted at the scene.

Investigation indicates that at the time of the incident Working severed the rope adjacent to the flagpole used to raise the flag by burning it with a lighter. Once the rope was severed Working lowered the flag and walked with it westbound, dragging the flag on the ground. He then stopped in the parking lot of the courthouse and set the flag on fire. One of the witnesses told him that she was calling the police at which time Working replied, "I'm not hurting anybody, go ahead." Working also uttered to the witnesses that he "was in the war," that he had nothing, and that he was now homeless. Working informed the investigating officer that he burned the flag because he was upset at the "Oval Office" and its lack of action in helping people.

Working was booked at the Santa Barbara County Jail for arson with a bail amount of $50,000.00. Photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.

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Man stealing flags at Bankruptcy court now attempting to light the flags on fire..1400 Block of State street.. (12/11/12)
2404 15

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Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 353026 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-11 05:58 PM

meth kills.


 COMMENT 353029 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-11 06:06 PM

Saw that guy in handcuffs last night on my way home. Seems like there's a lot to this story, hopefully someone can follow up.


 COMMENT 353030P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-11 06:08 PM

With a name like Working, you would think he'd have something more productive to do.


 COMMENT 353033P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-11 06:15 PM

Why 50,000 dollar bail? He may have been on meth, judging from his jaw I would say cocaine. I see stories here about men that hit their girlfriends and the bail is half of this.


 COMMENT 353064 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-11 07:49 PM

I agree, the bail doesn't make sense--Alejandro Mendibles Jr., age 44 was arrested with 1/4 lb of meth and only got $30K bail--plus driving without a license!!


 COMMENT 353078 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-11 08:08 PM

For at least the next six years that location is going to be extremely busy. Expect to hear more about "happenings" in/around that building. If I had the dough I'd set up a hot dog stand across the street and have bleachers set up to watch the action. We ain't seen nuffin' yet folks!!!


 COMMENT 353092P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-11 08:36 PM

Once the vets' groups get wind of this Working dude, he might be better off to stay behind bars rather than make bail.


 COMMENT 353104P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-11 09:28 PM

Sure, you're frustrated, Dude, but really, that stunt isn't going to get things anywhere. Volunteer for a good group and make your voice heard in a meaningful way. Even if it's civil disobedience. There's better ways to make change.
(Those of us older than you went through this already. Burning a flag to make change just doesn't work).


 COMMENT 353144 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-12 06:54 AM

bail is not necessarily an indication of the seriousness or quantity of crimes committed, rather it is a reflection of the risk of the defendant fleeing and failing to answer charges in court. Plain and simple, he's a flight risk.


 COMMENT 353155P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-12 07:43 AM

Mental illness is a real problem in our society today.


 COMMENT 353170 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-12 08:44 AM

All the above comments being taken into consideration...& as a decorated vet of 2 conflicts..the boy is not only RIGHT in his actions, but is displaying the very freedoms I lost my body parts for.


 COMMENT 353234 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-12 10:18 AM

Well said 170


 COMMENT 353235P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-12 10:18 AM

I don't think you fought a war so you could steal a flag. If he wants to burn one, he can buy one and then burn it.


 COMMENT 353243 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-12 10:24 AM

Well said 030.


 EARO65 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-12 11:15 AM

We do not know who this man is, nor do we know his story. The police, however, as well as the courts tend to react to anti-establishment actions with aggression. Sometimes this is justified, but other times not, and can lead to some rather serious legal ramifications and fines that the tax-payers must bear


 COMMENT 353290 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-12 11:59 AM

If you check his facebook profile, he has a slight crook in his chin. Could even have been caused by a war injury...


 COMMENT 353295 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-12 12:10 PM

You are right we don't know this man's story and if he is a vet I feel terribly sorry for him. I come from a long line of military with my grandfather and brother being career military. It takes a very strong individual to go through the service (even at times of "peace") and not have some effect, physically or mentally or both. They come home after giving more than any civillian job and cannot find a job, have to fight like crazy to get services from the VA that they were promised, and often are dealing with their own challenges coming back to society. I think many of our vets are treated like prison inmates that are just being released. In fact there are more programs that are easily accessible to parolees then veterans. Something needs to give and soon!! Our vets should not have to become criminals to get the help they need!!!


 COMMENT 353296 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-12 12:10 PM

Well he's not homeless today.


 COMMENT 353334 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-12 01:11 PM

I think the bail is high due to the charge of arson. They could have charged him with vandalism but this will keep him in jail for a while because I doubt a bail bondsman will loan him any money.

If I light my cigarette up, can they arrest me for arson too? How big of a fire does it have to be?


 COMMENT 353477P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-12 07:26 PM

Thank you 064. I read Noozhawk this eve and those 2 bail amounts were striking! Seems wrong and out of line, to me.


 COMMENT 353650 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-13 11:30 AM

@ 235...Yes, I fought so YOU could have the freedom to decide when,where,how & why you could express yourself positively or negatively in this country in regards as to how you feel about anything...up to & including the theft of a national symbol. It was MY blood that paid the cost for this decision & even as an old man, I`d do it again.
Signed, A Native American Veteran.


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