Atheist veteran investigated by police for NOT littering

After serving in Afghanistan Steven Hewett came home to King, N.C. They don’t ‘take kindly’ to atheist folks ’round these parts. Their public Veterans Memorial had a Christian flag flying over it, and when Steven complained… the whole town attempted to chase him out of town.

This is the man that an entire city held rallies against – including senators! They were two torches and a pitchfork away from making good on their violent threats to remove him.

Rather than take down the flag, they came up with a ridiculous smoke screen system that pretends to satisfy ‘limited public forum’ laws. They have a lottery that citizens can participate in where whoever wins a slot gets to pick that week’s flag. To this day, only the Christian flag has flown. Steven has chosen not to fly a flag on the occasions that he won the disgusting lottery.

Corruption at the King, N.C. Police Department

Yesterday, Steven left a disturbing message on the Facebook wall of the “Remove the Christian Flag from King” group.

WOW, I really can’t believe this, but the King Police Department has sunk to a new low. 

I had two Investigators at my door this afternoon wanting to question me about my week to fly or not fly a flag at our Veteran’s Memorial. 

At 9:00 am on Monday the 23rd of April the flagpole became mine as per the Limited Public Forum Policy. At 9:15 am the Christian flag was still flying and had not been removed as per policy by the previous week holder. 

Being with my rights to remove and dispose of such flag (properly so as not to litter) it was placed in a nearby trash receptacle. 

The police department sent two investigators to questions my actions and are sending the investigation report to the District Attorney’s Office to pursue charges against me. 

For what violation of the law you may ask? 

Absolutely, NONE! 

Just another way to harass a taxpaying law abiding citizen!

He further clarified in the comments section that he actually went all the way to City Hall to ask the person who should have removed her flag to… well, remove her flag. This is nuts:

Larry: I am on your side, but didn’t you expect trouble when you threw away their flag? Wouldn’t you have been upset if you had left yours up and they threw it away?

Steven Hewett: No, because I will take down my flag at the time I’m suppose to and not infringe upon another’s freedom of speech. Do you think for one second they would treat mine any different? I think not. I did not remove their flag until 9:45 after going to City Hall and speaking to the town clerk Tammy Hatley as to who was specifically responsible for removing the flag. She advised me to remove the flag and dispose of it as I pleased.

This town is pathetic. The town participated in a documentary but now they refuse to watch it. The filmmaker said that he asked them months later if they wished to retract or modify their statements, or if they had a change of heart. They didn’t, but somehow they were still mad at him for their own statements.

“Homosexuality is worse than slavery because god never said slavery is wrong.” (paraphrased)

Watch the film if you haven’t already.

www.youtube.com/embed/8ucVDpmFz-E?

Steven also just posted the document describing the city’s policy on the flag lottery. This is the document that the city of King, N.C. thinks solves their pending legal troubles? Wow… Americans United is already on the case, and are not placated by this see-through strategy. Please leave a supportive message on this hero’s Facebook group!

To my Christian readers:

Where are all the ‘moderate Christians’ slamming them with appeals for sanity? Bring your Scotsman fallacies, I don’t care. Say something! Come on! This is a different type of crazy than Westboro Baptist Church – but you need to implement the same quality controls and exile them to the fringe. They make Christians look stupid, and turn more people into atheists. Is this mania what you want to be associated with? Ridicule them, chastise them, teach them… do something!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1566144898 steveschlicht

    I’d be interested in getting a copy of the “Offense” report and the investigative narrative to see what statute has been allegedly violated.

    I also wonder if there has been any consideration and thought given to, you know, just having the good old American Flag flying over the Veterans Memorial?

    E Pluribus Unum.

    ;0)

  • http://rogiriverstone.com Rogi Riverstone

    your facebook log in app does not work. I cannot connect with this

  • That dude

    *jaw drops*

    A whole town? Damn man, what these people are saying… Where is the education!?

  • Don

    @steveschlicht, the memorial consists of, among other things, ELEVEN flag poles identifying each branch of the military, the POW/MIA flag, the American Legion flag, the town flag, the state flag and the US Flag. So, everyone is represented and it would seem to me that 10 flags was enough. :-)

    I can’t imagine a single statute that this man has violated. He went out of his way to do the right thing. Going down to city hall was above and beyond what I would expect. I probably would have taken the flag home and disposed of it there, but he’s already a controversy, and I’m sure someone would have seen him and reported the misdeed.

    I wish the best of luck to this man, and would support him if he posted he were moving and needed funds to get out of crazy town.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnAKieffer sc_c52037af5ab36bd8579a01aa23c09552

    Well done Steve Hewett.

    Those so-called “patriots” do not quite get it that it’s about protecting and defending the whole US Constitution, not only the parts that they like.

    Thanks for your service to our country then and now.

    John Kieffer

    Major, Infantry, US Army (retired)

    Vietnam, 1969-70

    Atheist

  • robertrichardson

    this is partly why I’m not a Christian anymore

  • RW Ahrens

    I wouldn’t have tossed their flag, I’d have dumped it on the City Hall clerk’s desk.

    I also would have hoisted a US flag and dared them to take it down!

  • Don

    Pardon my double post, but I just read through the Limited Public Forum policy in King, NC and was fascinated to learn the Veterans Administration has a list of recognized emblems allowed for displaying the “religion” of the soldier. The list is called “Emblems of Belief”. Ironically, they have an Atheist symbol, which is really an emblem of non-belief.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003542966660 trdev

    These people are just disgusting. This man violated no law and, in fact, followed the law AND THE LADY AT CITY HALL TOLD HIM TO! I am so ashamed to be a part of the same species as these people. It’s things like this that made me turn my back on Christianity in the first place. You’re absolutely right, Justin. They are, without a doubt, making more Atheists with this nonsense.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003542966660 trdev

    One more thing. I’d have taken the Christian flag to my house, put it on the grill and burned that shit! City Hall told him to dispose of it as he wished. Case closed.

  • heatherspoonheim

    There is no reasoning with Christians – not even most of the self-proclaimed moderates. They are incapable of processing facts where their faith is concerned and seem to actually have an aversion to the truth proportional to their faith.

    Battles like these need to be fought at a federal level – forcing the town to realize they are still in the United States and can’t just break off a piece of their own little confederacy anytime they so choose.

  • Gregory in Seattle

    And then these ignoramouses screech against theocracy and Sharia law. Maybe we could talk the Church of Scientology into moving in, taking over the town and imposing their religion? I suspect their “no separation of church and state” whining would change awfully fast.

  • iknklast

    Where are the Christians? It’s been my observation that, when things like this happen, they usually head over to the atheist sites to explain how such behavior isn’t really Christian, and they support the individual 100% – but they spend more time defending Christianity from the atheists than defending the Constitution against the Christians. Whenever they show up on our sites doing this, we need to point this out, and tell them to come back once they’ve stood up to the so-called false Christians. Lead by example.

  • plutosdad

    IANAL, but I learned a lot of weird stuff while my fiance was studying for the bar recently. For instance the concept of Appropriation of Lost Property. Which means you can’t just take things if you have knowledge of or means of inquiry as to the true owner.

    This is something most of us know inherently, and Hewett tried to find the owner because he knew to get rid of it without trying to find the owner first would be wrong. Charges may be dropped because he used the “means of inquiry” available to him and could not find the owner.

    But, I just put myself in his shoes and I think I would have returned the flag to the city clerk, or held onto it (which might get me accused of stealing anyway), since I know the owner would show up to claim it.

    I also think they left it up there deliberately and refused to take it, hoping to cause trouble, so that may complicate things, since it wasn’t really “lost”. However, what if that person was in the hospital, or out of town and actually did forget, would that change things?

  • F. Bacon

    Can’t win. Anything he did with that christian flag would have been deemed inappropriate. Take it home? Theft; Leave at the City Hall? Unauthorized; Leave it at the scene? Littering.

  • Justin Hooker

    It wasn’t the whole city, and I don’t appreciate being lumped in to the mass category of the bigots in this city. The numbers the media touted were vastly exaggerated, in regards to how many people were marching.

  • http://spaninquis.wordpress.com/ Spanish Inquisitor

    I have two thoughts: (yes, I know, it’s in excess of my daily quota.)

    1. I have a hard time believing the whole town is this stupid. A vocal minority, maybe. Even a vocal majority. But everyone? Statistically, there have to be people who disagree with this shit, but perhaps are either apathetic, or afraid to stand up and be counted.

    2. Throwing the flag in the garbage is like throwing down a gauntlet. I suspect that’s exactly what the guy before him wanted: a fight. “I’ll just leave my flag up there beyond the time it’s allowed, and just hope he does something stupid like, I don’t know, throw it in this convenient garbage can I left here?”

    3. (I know, I can’t count either) Why not put up one of those “COEXIST” flags? They are kinda mamby-pamby, but it’s a start. Putting up nothing is like acknowledging you have nothing to say.

  • Noway

    For a “Christian” to cause such fear in another human; children, neighbors or co-workers proves they are NOT true Christians and totally missed the point of Jesus’ teachings.

    WWJD?

    Let’s see he would honor those who chose not to follow him, he would forgive those who do not share his belief, he would bless them with every thought and action and would never raise a hand or negative word against them.

    These self proclaimed ‘Christians’ in King, NC might want to read the very book they’re using to torment other humans cuz according to their own book THEY will be the ones answering to God and Christ about their actions of hate toward other men who do not agree with them.

  • http://Facebook emanuel kleinFa

    Re.:”Where are all the ‘moderate Christians”?

    Lets face it squarely

    “Nones”,’THEMS RARE’, apparently, in small town USA.

    Not that it will change any of the hard feelings of such small town bigots but it seems that hitting them in their wallets via litigation, when appropriate,is probably the only way to keep them in their

    place & quiet.

  • http://none Tiktaalik

    To those who do not think there is a definite wall of separation:

    Which god is this nation under?

    Which version of the Christian god?

    Which sect among the 30,000 options should we follow?

    I don’t think you all get it: Do you want to be told which set of dogma to follow? Because that’s exactly what you are arguing IN FAVOR of.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CynicalOtaku nathanielfrein

    To Justin Hooker and the Spanish Inquisitor:

    It really doesn’t matter how many reasonable people are in the town. The fact is, they’re not standing up against this nonsense. They’re letting this group of bigots run roughshod over their town. They are enabling the problem.

    And further, Justin, you claim to be a citizen of the town. Have you reached out to this man, this man who put his life on the line to defend your freedom, to stand with him now? Have you tried to organize against these bigots you claim do not represent the whole town?

    If not, shame on you. Shame on you for coming here and blaming us for lumping you in with the rest of the town. Shame on you for standing by and just watching this perversion.

  • Andrew Kilian

    Taking the flag down is one thing, but throwing it in the trash is impractical at best and stirring up unnecessary trouble. Taking it down and returning it to the rightful person may have been the less incendiary, tactful and classy way to go.

  • Marshall

    Thank you for sharing this story. And thank you Steven for standing up for everyone’s equal rights.

  • rowanvt

    @22, so after going out of his way to City Hall, he should then attempt to locate the home of the person whose flag that was and go further out of his way to return it?

    Do you not realise how that would look? “Atheists stalks and harasses Christian!”

  • Eric R

    Where are all the ‘moderate Christians’?

    I would sure like to meet one, they are apparantly as common as unicorns.

  • FormerlyNavy

    I was only able to sit through 30 minutes of that video before the disgusting righteousness of the “Christians” shown made me want to hurl.

    In response to #22: perhaps throwing it away was the more incendiary way of dealing with the flag, but those “Christians” already dislike Steven for so many reasons. No doubt had he tried to return the flag to the owner, they would have found something else in their never-ending piss pot to pour on him. This is, of course, simply my opinion.

    @#21: How do you know the atheists in the town *aren’t* fighting back? Do you live nearby? Do you speak with them on a daily basis? Are you a fly on the wall? Not to mention, from the looks of the video, the town council, or whatever it is called there, seems to be primarily made up of religious whackos…so maybe the atheists ARE fighting, and maybe they are just turned down at every possibly turn. If you don’t know and you’re not doing anything, don’t get angry at others for not knowing or doing. Justin Hooker may be doing what he can when he can. Without asking, how will you know?

    To restate, these are just my opinions. Agree or disagree, your choice. I don’t particularly care if you disagree. That is your opinion.

  • alex k.

    It’s a noble fight–that needs to be aggressively continued–but when we’re dealing with evangelicals, it’s a very long and very difficult road. There’s a book out–I’m posting the brief review from the New York Times the other day–but these are cases of people essentially being brainwashed and indoctrinated. You can’t fight that with reason and logic–not to say it’s not fun to try or pursue if you have the energy and wherewithal to beat your head against a wall! The focus needs to remain on making sure people don’t reach that state in the future. That’s why this movement needs to grow, and never let up.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/books/review/when-god-talks-back-by-tm-luhrmann.html

  • Atheist

    The name of this article is incredibly misleading, he wasn’t investigated for not littering. It never even says that in the article. Yea it catches headline but jeez this is just a stretch and for the ignorant people that are investigating him for this, they will actually think the headline/name of an article like this is what actually happened.

  • Brian F II

    I’d like to point out that in putting no flag up he was actually respecting some pretty moderate behavior. I don’t like to be proselytized, indeed, I find it offensive. Confucius said that we should do naught unto others what would be repulsive done to ourselves and I believe that is in the heart of everybody in our species in their right mind.

    I thank Steven for taking the high ground and not putting up the atheist flag. This is not an Atheist nation, it is a secular nation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003668026339 Richard Ewald

    I talked to Steven yesterday on the phone before he broke the news on: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Remove-The-Christian-Flag-From-King/142620875796110

    He was hoping to be charged (with what though? Felony Infringement of Christian Special Privilege?), just to get his day in court. I think his words were, “I WANT them to take me to court”. Last I heard the DA declined to press any charges (Felony Atheism?).

    I don’t think this story is even close to being over yet, this seems to me a blatant violation of Steven’s rights, on the taxpayer’s dime.

    There’s a few layers of government that have some explaining to do

  • Justin Griffith

    @# 28

    The name of this article is incredibly misleading, he wasn’t investigated for not littering. It never even says that in the article. Yea it catches headline but jeez this is just a stretch and for the ignorant people that are investigating him for this, they will actually think the headline/name of an article like this is what actually happened.

    First of all… this is exactly what the SOURCE said.

    “Being with my rights to remove and dispose of such flag (properly so as not to litter) it was placed in a nearby trash receptacle.

    The police department sent two investigators to questions my actions and are sending the investigation report to the District Attorney’s Office to pursue charges against me.

    For what violation of the law you may ask?

    Absolutely, NONE!”

    It is not misleading for me to title my blog post based around his statement. I’m not a journalist. My blog title is meant to represent Steven’s point of view. People need to understand that I empathize with his non-factual, but genuinely emotional description of what just happened to him. If you want to read about this with a boring title check a newspaper… oh that’s right they’re all ignoring this insanity.

  • Ned B III

    I am a Christian and I support this man’s right to protest a Christian flag over a veteran’s memorial. These days too many people who label themselves as Christians who don’t live up to the most basic tenets of the faith. For instance, treating others how they themselves wish to be treated. Additionally, they seem to have a certain vision of history where all the founding fathers were Christian and sought to create a land of Christian virtue, rather than a land of freedom of belief and speech. The rest of the time they cherrypick the articles our our government they can use to support their bigoted worldview, then deny that those same articles of the constitution apply to anyone else. I will never defend them. Quite the opposite.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003668026339 Richard Ewald

    # 1 “I’d be interested in getting a copy of the “Offense” report and the investigative narrative to see what statute has been allegedly violated.”

    I’m pretty sure this is going to surface, sooner if not later. With copies of relevant documents audio of the visit as well.

    # 17 “Putting up nothing is like acknowledging you have nothing to say.”

    On the contrary, Steven’s original objection was that the purpose of the 11th flagpole was unconstitutional. In choosing to not fly a flag, he’s consistent not only with this purpose, but his convictions and most importantly, the oath he took to defend the Constitution; and THAT’S something.

    # 28 “The name of this article is incredibly misleading, he wasn’t investigated for not littering. It never even says that in the article. Yea it catches headline but jeez this is just a stretch and for the ignorant people that are investigating him for this, they will actually think the headline/name of an article like this is what actually happened.”

    Actually it’s quite accurate with what I know about what happened from speaking with Steven. The “not littering” reference was made during the investigation, probably more than once.

    Legally, that flag should not have been on that flag pole in the first place. Had Steven removed it from the property, he might have left himself open to being charged with theft, had he left it on the ground or on the bench, being charged with littering was a possibility. Putting it in the trash, or “not littering” breaks no laws. So he was investigated for “not littering”.

  • left0ver1under

    Where are all the ‘moderate Christians’ slamming them with appeals for sanity?

    “Moderate” christians want non-christians murdered and persecuted just as much as the extremists do, but the “moderates” are afraid of being prosecuted. A drunken man’s words are a sober man’s thoughts, and people who are drunk on religion are just saying what the sober one’s are thinking.

    http://www.atheistcartoons.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/charlie.jpg

    The religious blather that “If it weren’t for ‘god’, I might be out there murdering people!” They really do live up to that statement.

  • Garry

    Is this really a surprise in a state where people want to amend the constitution to discriminate? I think when I get back from overseas I may need to find a new place to live. It’s getting sickening in NC.

  • Anri

    Spanish Inquisitor:

    2. Throwing the flag in the garbage is like throwing down a gauntlet. I suspect that’s exactly what the guy before him wanted: a fight. “I’ll just leave my flag up there beyond the time it’s allowed, and just hope he does something stupid like, I don’t know, throw it in this convenient garbage can I left here?”

    Um, you did read this bit, right?

    I did not remove their flag until 9:45 after going to City Hall and speaking to the town clerk Tammy Hatley as to who was specifically responsible for removing the flag. She advised me to remove the flag and dispose of it as I pleased.

    You know, the bit where the person who was in charge of the flag said whatever happened to it was fine with them? The bit where they said the flag should be disposed of?

  • sqlrob

    These self proclaimed ‘Christians’ in King, NC might want to read the very book they’re using to torment other humans cuz according to their own book THEY will be the ones answering to God and Christ about their actions of hate toward other men who do not agree with them.

    Yeah, you’re right.

    Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

    Whoops, sounds like they read it.

  • Hateclosedmindedpeople

    People like that are the reason I am the way I am. I hate closed minded people and how they cant see pasr their own wants n thoughts. The american flag should be whats flying over the memorial, not some flag to push their beliefs! Al I have to say is thank you sir for what you did for this country n its people, even the closed minded idiots. And you are more then welcome to move to nm, we treat our vets with the respect they deserve, no matter their beliefs :)

  • Deborah Fleischmann

    We are one NATION not one religion.

  • Sld

    it is well settled case law that using police forces to intimidate or suppress people’s rights is a civil rights violation. They don’t just have to charge you for their to be a valid civil lawsuit against the police force for such intimidation. While I wouldn’t sue over just one simple violation of this nature, I would have your attorney send the police chief a strongly worded letter detailing what happened and how it constitutes a civil rights violation under applicable Supreme Court law. They’ll get that to their lawyers who will tell them to be careful and not pull such stunts in the future. If they continue, then you’ve got really strong grounds to file suit. Many federal courts have not taken kindly to police taking such actions and have hammered them to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, plus attorney’s fees. Best not to ask for a jury trial though in that area of NC.

  • http://www.rippere.com Kim Rippere

    Incredible . . . not surprising; which is sad.

  • King Citizen

    Just for the record, the flag was not left up intentionally, the older lady that had her flag there had a family situation that prevented her from being there on time. Also, Mr Hewett was never ran out of town nor did the people try to run him out. They simply disagreed with the man and stood for their beliefs. And last, there was over 5000 people that marched that day in 2010 and these numbers are recorded. Do your research instead of just taking this man’s word for it.

  • Alverant

    #42 I noticed you don’t have anything to back up your claim. Why should we just take your word for it?

  • King Citizen

    #43 I was there, stood 30 days at the memorial during it, was standing in front of the two ladies protesting on the knoll and Mr hewett lied when he said they were pushed down. They were not touched and they remained on that knoll until the March was over and they left. Many people in our community tries to reach out to Steven hewett ans yes in sure there were a select few that maybe harrassed him but again it was a select few.

    Sorry I’m mobile, I realize there are typos

    There is footage of the entire march on YouTube, you can catch a glimse of these two girls and also see that they were never pushed or removed from their spot. The militia in our area are well known business owners and good people they are not as Mr hewett describes them to be

  • http://sciencenotes.wordpress.com/ Markita Lynda—damn climate change!

    Your beliefs are not entitled to a special, government-funded display. You are in violation of the Constitution. Do the right thing and tell your city to take down the sectarian, exclusive flag.

  • Aquaria

    #42/44:

    Typical christslime. No idea of how evidence works.

    Your word is fucking worthless. Do you get that, you piece of shit?

    YOU have to provide the evidence. YOU don’t tell us to go research a goddamned thing. YOU have to research the links and post them. NOT US.

    This is why you’re christslime. You’re too fucking stupid to know how reason works. If you did, you wouldn’t be so fucking stupid and deluded.

    Fuck off back to your delusion, you moronic douchebag.

  • Real Patriot

    Some of you people get sucked in by the biggest loosers!!!

    California would suit most of you just fine, So why do you stick around were the majority are God Fearing people. You seek to tear people and their beliefs . You are no better than hitler. You can hide behind the red,white and blue all you want, but your true colors are plain to see for those with eyes to see. COMMIE RED

  • Don

    @ #47 You said “You are no better than hitler.”

    You ARE aware Hitler was a Catholic, right?

    Also, God-fearing people just raped and murdered another little girl in Pakistan.

    Stay classy, religitard.


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