© Steve Fontanini / LA Times, 1961, Ripped American flag
While sitting in police custody, Jesus Farias Iglesias, 28, is framed by the U.S. flag he tore off a staff, ripped and trampled as 200 schoolchildren watched in astonishment.
This photo was published on Page One of The Times and also was distributed by AP and appeared in newspapers all over the United States.
An article in the Nov. 11, 1961, Los Angeles Times reported:
A 28-year-old laborer Friday tore a large American Flag off a staff in Olvera Street, ripped and trampled it as 200 elementary school children, on a tour of the site where Los Angeles originated, looked on in shocked astonishment.
Witnesses told police Jesus Farias Iglesias, a transient, shouted in Spanish: “We’re blaspheming, having this Flag in the street!” They also quoted him as saying the United States is persecuting Mexico and its people.
The children, from the Downey and Baldwin Park school districts, and Mexican-Americans along the historical street were shocked by the incident and voiced their displeasure, said Sgt. C.E. Leonard.
An Olvera Street candy vendor, Isaias Salazar, 46, telephoned police as a leather shop employee, Raul Varela, followed Iglesias to nearby Plaza Park. Iglesias sat down on a bench there and Varela pointed him out to police when they arrived.
The desecrated Flag was hanging from a vertical pole at 14 Olvera Street. A Mexican flag hung from a staff alongside it.
Police said the suspect, a citizen of Mexico, has been living in Southern California for seven years. He was booked for disturbing the peace.
I’d really like to know the background of this story, why he was doing it. I’m living in Austria, a country with xenophobic tendencies and a bureaucratic system that can make you lose it very easily; a country with a political system that is one of the most corrupt in Europe. I can tell you: if someone waved an Austrian flag right before my nose I’d maybe react like Mr. Iglesias did.
That’s why my favourite nation still is (and always will be): imagination.