Published in the New York Daily News on May 9, 1970 with the caption: "One man lands punch on face of antiwar demonstrator, sending his glasses flying. Demonstrator allegedly spat upon American flag as he stood at foot of Washington's statue."


What happened here? Who was this "antiwar demonstrator"?

Consider these two accounts:

Construction worker Joe Kelly

"There was just a lot of hollering and screaming going back and forth until whoever the individual was-oh, he was no spring chicken, he was 40, 45 years old-that spit on the flag. I was maybe four or five rows back in with the construction workers. I saw him make a gesture, you know, a forward motion. That was it. That was the spark that ignitied the flame. It came out in the roar of the crowd. 'He spit on the flag! He spit on the flag!' And of course the construction worker got up there on top of the monument and he gave him a good whack and off came the guy's glasses and I guess he followed his glasses off the pedestal there. And then there just seemed to be a rush, a mob scene. The chant then was, 'Get the flags up on the steps where they belong. It's a Government building.'"

More on Joe Kelley

Joe Kelley's full account of events on Wall Street

The official New York Police Department report on the events of May 8, 1970

Once atop the steps, the construction workers implanted a number of American flags on the pillars and on the statue of George Washington. Since the peace demonstrators were concentrated to the westerly portion of the front of the building, little physical contact between these two groups took place at this time and the construction workers, seemingly content with their victory, proceeded to conduct a salutory ceremony to the Flag. The police lines were reformed perpendicular to the centerline of the face of the building to once again separate the two factions...

At this juncture, a neatly groomed conservatively dressed middle aged man suddenly took a position on the pedestal in front of the statue of George Washington where he thumbed his nose at the construction worker group, shouted obscenities, and ultimately committed an act of desecration upon one of the American flags implanted there by them. He was variously reported as blowing his nose in the flag, tearing the flag with his teeth, and eating the flag.

The construction workers ignored his taunts but became enraged and reacted violently to the desecration of the American flag. They overran the entire step area, forcing the peace demonstrators down to the street among the spectators; the flag desecrator was toppled to the ground, and numerous sporadic scuffles took place between peace demonstrators, construction workers, and onlookers.

Other police report stuff: the flag desecrator is also discussed on pp. 18-19, 29-30, the latter two pages being a discussion of the "lawyer witness" [Michael Belknap?] who accompanied the old man to the hospital and went on the become injured at Pace) Reference to Joe Kelly article: pg. 24

More reports on Wall Street events

Controversy over role of police