- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 5, 2015

DUNCANSVILLE, Pa. (AP) - A man won’t be prosecuted for painting the letters “AIM” on an American flag that he then flew upside down on his house last year because the gesture amounts to constitutionally protected speech, a central Pennsylvania judge ruled.

The Blair County judge’s ruling, issued last week, agreed with Joshua Brubaker, 38, of Allegheny Township, and the American Civil Liberties Union, WJAC-TV (https://bit.ly/1Ed7X5t) first reported late Monday.

Allegheny Township police charged Brubaker with two flag desecration crimes - maliciously hanging or taking down a flag and mutilating a flag - after then-assistant township Chief Leo Berg and two motorists said they were offended by the display. Police also seized the flag, which Brubaker said he plans to display again once it’s returned.

The flag represented the American Indian Movement, a group that works to protect American Indians. Brubaker and his wife both have American Indian ancestry.

Berg, who is now the police chief, and the county district attorney’s office didn’t immediately return calls from The Associated Press.

Defense attorney Andrew Shubin said his client was prosecuted “because he said something the government disliked.”

He said in a statement he hoped the dismissal of all charges “sends a powerful message to those who seek to silence expression critical of government policies.”

Brubaker told WJAC he was happy with the outcome.

“It feels good. It is something that I knew was going to happen from the start,” Brubaker said.

“As the court made crystal clear in its decision, it is the government who acted illegally by punishing Mr. Brubaker,” the ACLU said in a statement.


Information from: WJAC-TV, https://www.wjactv.com

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