How to Burn An American Flag
Printable PDFs: COLOR | BLACK & WHITE
The so-called “United States” flag represents Indigenous genocide, African slavery, & ongoing imperialist aggression throughout the world. When symbols are burned & monuments destroyed, the ideas & institutions that they represent become diminished. Agitative propaganda (agitprop) can inspire & build morale, it can also provoke strong emotional responses from those who maintain allegiance to such symbols.
As fascists use their colonial law of “free speech” to rally & dehumanize, we burn
their symbols & reveal their hypocrisies. By attacking symbols of colonialism, white supremacy, hetero-patriarchy, fascism, & capitalism, we break down the legitimacy of their power & loosen their death grip on our humanity.
Liberate a flag from a local fascist or corporate store. 100% cotton flags are easiest to light & don’t emit toxic fumes like nylon ones. Burning nylon flags also can stick to clothes, skin, and any surface so they are best left to burn on the ground or affixed to a pole.
Lighters and matches are easy to carry. Any source of ignition will do. Road flares or a spray paint with a lighter held up to the nozzle are excellent ways to ensure good & quick ignition.
A flammable accelerant such as lighter fluid is highly recommended. We do not recommend using gasoline as it is extremely volatile. Do not douse the entire flag, just a small section & light away from your body. Most flags will not ignite immediately & can take time to start burning well. If no accelerants are available fold a couple of ends of the flag onto itself & hold your matches or lighter to the material until a good flame starts.
As flag burning is highly symbolic, keep in mind the visual narrative that your location may provide i.e. a monument, a political office, etc. The idea is to maximize the effect of your action, so even significant dates can enhance the overall impact. Be aware of your surroundings to make sure unintended fires are not started ;).
While burning the so-called US flag is considered “protected speech” you may want to consider researching local settler colonial laws.
In some instances folx have faced charges of “reckless burning.” If the burning is held in a private area certain security concerns may not be warranted. Perhaps the biggest threats are from fascists & reactionary liberals aka movement police (usually the same thing). Be situationally aware of these possible threats on the ground & online. Serious doxxing of flag burners has occurred in some areas with some of those identified facing death threats & even losing their jobs. Mask up & cover anything that can identify you (tattoos, piercings, hair, etc). Make sure any documentation especially social media can’t be used to identify you (don’t tag yourself in the pics).
American flags can be ripped into pieces to make Molotov cocktails. Mix one part gasoline to one part motor oil in a glass bottle. Plug with cloth or cap & secure cloth to top by tying, duct tape, etc. Extremely dangerous *for educational purposes only*.
“Decolonize” your flag burning by using a traditional hand drill. Spin a wooden drill against a wood board with your bare hands. Use the ember to start a fire & then hold flag over flames until you achieve ignition.