Ross Burton, the 23-year-old arrested early Wednesday morning in an attempt to burn the gay pride flag at the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC), is a member of the Memphis-based 164th airlift wing of the Tennessee Air National Guard.
Burton was arrested after plainclothes Memphis police officers spotted him and another man attempting to set fire to the rope that holds the rainbow flag in front of the MGLCC.
Burton and the other suspect struggled with the police and even tried to disarm an officer. The police received minor cuts and bruises in the fight, and the suspects fled the scene. Burton was located about an hour later and charged with aggravated assault and vandalism over $500. The other man got away, but a police spokesperson says they now have another person in custody for questioning. No charges have been filed against that person at this time.
Though there is no known connection at press time, an MGLCC billboard depicting gay local former Marine Tim Smith was destroyed in September. The billboard, located at Poplar and High, read, "I'm gay and I protected your freedom."