Many watched the motorcade for the Vice President’s son, 46-year-old Beau Biden, who died after a two-year fight with brain cancer. The large black automobiles were headed to Biden’s funeral mass at St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church.
As the motorcade made its way to the church, members of the Westboro Baptist Church protested.
One of these protesters, a young lady, walked across the highway as she stepped on an American flag. The lady was a member of the Kansas church, known for demonstrating at soldiers’ funerals.
According to USA Today, Richard Pierce, a Marine veteran, said that he “snapped” when he saw the lady walking on the tattered flag. He reacted to the situation by pouring the coffee he had purchased earlier on the protesting lady.
“When I saw the young lady walking across the highway, dragging our flag under her feet, I lost my temper, and the only way that I could demonstrate that is spill my coffee on them,” Pierce said.
His coffee spilled all over two members of the Kansas church who were protesting near the motorcade.
The Marine veteran was part of a group of several hundred individuals who were conducting a counter-protest against the protest of the Kansas church.
“So many people have died in defense of that flag. I don’t care who you are, you are not going to disrespect the flag. And if I have to go to jail to defend that flag, I’m going to do it,” added Pierce, according to the Washington Times.
Despite Pierce’s strong feelings towards the flag, the Westboro Baptist Church protesters were not violating the law. U.S. courts have largely held that disrespect of the flag is legal.
“It was not my intention to cause a problem,” Pierce said. “However, when I saw the young lady walking across the highway, dragging our flag under her feet, I lost my temper and the only way that I could demonstrate that is spill my coffee on them.”
Richard Pierce was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. A court hearing is scheduled for July 20.
The veteran regretted giving any attention or publicity to the church protesters. “I guess that’s where I fell into their trap,” he said.