Like many young people across the country, 20-year-old Lysa Cole attended a protest over the weekend against police brutality. The official event Cole attended in Spokane, WA was wrapping up around 5pm when Cole said she began to noticing a shift in the mood that concerned her.

“People that hadn’t been there from the very beginning started to come in and you could see that there was just a change getting ready to happen,” Cole said.

Several men lit an American flag on fire and threw it into the street. Cole saw the crowd around her watch it burn and remembered a chant from the march: “Silence is violence.”

“I was like hmm, something bad is happening and I have it in my power to be able to stop it, so I was like I’m going to do that,” Cole said.

Cole’s father is a veteran and her brother is currently active duty, according to The Spokesman-Review.

“I was just hurt because people worked hard for that flag,” she said.

She added, “With us protesting for Black Lives Matter, we’re not standing up against America, we’re standing up for what America can be.”

They men swore at her and said she was taking their property when she took the flag away.

“If it was your property, you wouldn’t be destroying it,” Cole responded.

Cole said what the flag burners did is why people give protestors a bad name.

“If you can differentiate between not all cops are bad and not all white people are racist, why can’t you differentiate between all protesters are not rioters and looters,” Cole said.

A few minutes later, the scene repeated itself. The same group of men lit a piece of fabric with American flags printed on it, rather than the flag itself.

Once again, a young woman intervened. Simone Richardson had been chatting with her friend Lysa Cole during the first incident. But Cole had already left the protest.

Simone Richardson

“I got the second flag. and told them ‘Don’t burn it!’,” Richardson, 19, said. “That’s not what this protest is about.”

A few minutes later, the man who burned the flag walked up to Richardson and apologized.

“We got each other’s different perspectives,” Richardson said.

According to Richardson, they respectfully talked it out.

“We shook hands and just went the opposite way,” Richardson said.

When Cole learned about Richardson’s action, and the subsequent apology she said, “It just really confirms that standing up in the face of injustice really makes an impact,” Cole said.”This positive thing was reinforced.”

Cole said she hopes her choice to step in can inspire other people to stand up for what’s right.

“I don’t want my younger sisters or my future kids to grow up in a world where they have to protest these kinds of things as well as other injustices,” Cole said. “Listen to our generation and give spaces for us to speak.”

One flag, one land, one heart, one hand, one nation evermore.

2 Responses

  1. JP

    Act civilized if you want a change! I am no politician, not even folliw politics, but so far looks like the President wants put order in the Country and no one is respecting. Lets go vote. Lets act as civilized humans.

    • Vicki

      Thank you very much Lysa Cole, Simone Richardson, and many others out there for trying to reinforce such positivity. My son will soon be 15 and has done the same and has received some nasty remarks too. Most think he’s older when they talk to him because he speaks very intelligently and is involved with police explorers, scouts, animal rescue, baseball & that list goes on. CJ is a busy kid. Some understood him and some did not. We are in this and with everyone on equality and against police brutality. However, how do we get those to understand that not all of our men & women in blue are bad? We need to come together in this and nothing is going to be done immediately. We cannot erase history.
      Our American History is being shredded, statues & monuments removed or taken down, renaming of military bases, the “Gone with the Wind” classic, petitions to rename roadways (residential & major) across the USA, list goes on. The statues & monuments should stay regardless BUT have a disclaimer of sort mentioning why it exists & list all pertinent information. I can go on but this may turn into a novel. Now I hear Lady Antebellum is changing their name their name to “Lady A”. Sorry, it just came across on the news. The vandalism on the monuments and statues is crazy & must stop. Those whom are vandalizing should face charges. What’s next – schools? Stay positive & support one another but without vandalism, looting, rioting, desecration to our flag.


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