UPDATE: Woman charged after stomping on the American flag
A witness told deputies they watched Emily Warren remove the United States and Tennessee flags, put them on the ground and start stomping on them.
The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office and Tennessee State Park Rangers arrested a woman Thursday night for removing and stomping an American and a Tennessee state flag at Red Clay State Park.
A witness told deputies they watched Emily Arianna Warren remove the United States and Tennessee flags, put them on the ground, and start stomping on them.
Lt. James Bradford of the Bradley County Sheriff's Office said deputies were contacted about a woman burning a flag at the park, but there was no indication that the flags were burned in addition to being stomped on.
Bradford said he believed the flag was actually thrown into the eternal flame at the Red Clay State Park.
Warren told deputies this was not the first time she had removed flags at the park, and also admitted that she swam in the blue hole located inside the park, marked with “No Trespassing” signs.
The arrest affidavit says a Red Clay State Park manager Erin Medley was contacted about someone burning the flag. Once Medley got to the scene she saw "a woman standing in front of the Eternal Flame playing a hand drum chanting words I couldn't make out."
While speaking with Warren, the affidavit state she said "this was the second time she had been to Red Clay to remove the flags and carry out some ritual. The first time she actually stole the Tennessee and United States flags and we had to replace them."
Residents have strong reactions to hearing what she's accused of doing.
"Angry and want to know why. You know have respect for your country. Why would you do something like that? It's not OK," said Jessica Boatwright.
A woman working at the park says Warren was yelling, "I am a sovereign citizen."
According to the FBI, self-described sovereign citizens are anti-government extremists who are considered a domestic terrorism threat.
"That angers me. It's absolutely disrespectful," said Manny Montes De Oca.
Manny has the American flag waving outside of his home at all times. He says it's important for him to care for the flags properly and to keep them flying high.
"It's not something that can just be described in a few words but it's a beautiful thing, I see a lot of beauty in it," he said, "And even if you're not for it, you don't stand for it, have the decency to just leave it alone."
Warren is being held at the Bradley County Jail on a $1,250 bond.
She was charged with two counts of desecration of a flag, vandalism under $500 and criminal trespassing.