POSTED: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - 4:32pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - 11:35am
BATON ROUGE, La (NBC33) — Chaos erupts on the LSU campus after a student planned a protest over the American flag. Grad student Benjamin Haas wanted to burn an American flag on the parade grounds Wednesday in protest of the 23-year-old Isaac Eslava's treatment.
Last Monday, Eslava allegedly cut down and burned the American flag hanging over the War Memorial. He was arrested Thursday by LSU police.
Haas says Eslava's actions were protected under freedom of speech. He created a Facebook page to promote the event, stressing that he wanted it to be a non-violent expression of his right to free speeech. LSU officials say Haas was given permission for the protest. They say he followed all the protocol beforehand, and spoke with LSU police. They also said that it was not an LSU endorsed event.
Wednesday, Haas decided against burning the flag. Instead, he chose to read a statement. His attempts were met with jeers from hundreds of students and community members who came to counter-protest the flag burning.
The demonstration got out of control when people in the crowd started throwing water balloons and ice at Haas. He was escorted from the area by LSU police.
"If he would have lit that flag on fire, every single person in that crowd would have put it out and ran away with it," says LSU student, Ryan Nuckolls. "Not one person was going to let that flag burn today and he knew that."