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Man Charged with Trying to Burn Flag at Bankruptcy Court

Gary Evan Matthew Working, 25, of Santa Barbara is accused of arson in the case

The flagpole in front of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court on State Street in Santa Barbara stands bare Tuesday, a day after a 25-year-old man allegedly stole the American flag and tried to burn it.

The flagpole in front of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court on State Street in Santa Barbara stands bare Tuesday, a day after a 25-year-old man allegedly stole the American flag and tried to burn it.  (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

By Tom Bolton, Noozhawk Executive Editor | @tombol |

Gary Evan Matthew Working
Gary Evan Matthew Working

A 25-year-old man is facing felony arson charges after he allegedly tried to burn an American Flag flying in front of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, according to the Santa Barbara Police Department.

Gary Evan Matthew Working of Santa Barbara was arrested Monday night after witnesses called police, said Sgt. Riley Harwood.

Officers were called to the court building at 1415 State Street at about 6:30 p.m. after witnesses reported he was burning the flag, Harwood said.

“Upon arrival, the officers took … Working into custody and extinguished the fire with a fire extinguisher from one of the police vehicles,” Harwood said.

Working allegedly severed the rope adjacent to the flagpole that is used to raise and lower 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,” Harwood said. “He then stopped in the parking lot of the courthouse and set the flag on fire.”

Working told witnesses that he “was in the war,” that he had nothing, and that he was now homeless, Harwood said.

Working also informed the investigating officers that he burned the flag because he was upset at the “Oval Office” and its lack of action in helping people, Harwood said.

He was booked at the Santa Barbara County Jail, with bail set at $50,000.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.




comments powered by Disqus

» on 12.11.12 @ 09:32 PM

50gs? Thats ridiculous? He is a hero that expresses my sentiment. Fight the power! Free Gary!!!!

» on 12.12.12 @ 01:19 PM

I thought flag-burning was determined to be a form of protected free speech in the 1960’s?  What is this felony arson nonsense?

» on 12.12.12 @ 01:54 PM

‘Cuz it weren’t his flag, John!

» on 12.12.12 @ 04:24 PM

If this young man is indeed a “Veteran” as alluded to in the article (Working told witnesses that he “was in the war,” that he had nothing, and that he was now homeless, Harwood said.)then I hope that he gets appropriate help rather than punishment for his current actions.  I am the mother of two veterans (one of whom died recently) and I pray every day that our vets get the proper assistance that they so deserve.

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