There’s a flag outside state Sen. Mike Regan’s Camp Hill office.
Inside, he’s wearing flag socks and has the stars and stripes over his shoulder behind his desk. He’s also got a big chip on his shoulder over people who don’t stand while the flag is flying and the national anthem is playing.
“It was just disturbing to me to watch these guys in the NFL not be willing to stand for something that is so precious to so many Americans,” Regan (R-Cumberland/York) said of this past weekend’s protests at National Football League games by players who kneeled or stayed in their locker rooms during the anthem.
Regan, a former U.S. marshal, seems genuinely angry at the protests. He’s pushing a Senate resolution calling it “an orchestrated effort to disrespect the anthem and flag of the United States of America, and it cannot go unrebuked.”
Regan says a lot of his constituents agree with him and have expressed displeasure since Sunday.
“Absolutely, 100 percent,” said Milad Rhayem, who owns the Cedars Restaurant next door to Regan’s office. Rhayem immigrated from Lebanon in the Middle East 40 years ago and says players who kneel should get the boot.
“This is the flag. This is the United States of America. You should respect the flag and respect the country,” said Milad, who added he goes by Mike.
“If people were as concerned about a knee in the back of Freddie Gray as they are about a knee on the ground, we’d be dealing with this issue in a much different way because that would show real concern about the issue of police brutality,” said Andy Hoover, the communications director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.
Hoover says the First Amendment and peaceful protests are protected and should be celebrated.
“Dr. King once said that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor,” Hoover said. “It must be demanded by the oppressed. He went on to say that, ‘I’ve never been involved in a campaign that’s considered well-timed by people who weren’t suffering.’ Mike Regan is not suffering what people of color are suffering.”
Regan understands that NFL players have the right to protest. He just thinks it’s wrong how they do so.
“Dennis, when I think about our soldiers that are killed on foreign lands, they come home wrapped in that flag,” Regan said. “That flag deserves respect of Americans and I take exception to the fact that these guys are turning their back on that.”
A resolution has no real teeth. Regan says it would just be an opportunity for the Senate to make a statement. He said he’s curious to see how many people will vote with him on the resolution.