Manhart, 38, wasn’t arrested for taking the flag. She was hauled in for refusing to give it back.
Protests involving the desecration, or even burning, of the stars and stripes is legal because the act is considered a form of free speech. Rescuing the flag, while patriotic, is illegal. Go figure.
Manhart was captured on video struggling with police officers who tried to take the flag from her. She can be heard saying the flag belonge to “the entire United States.”
She was eventually forced to the ground and handcuffed. Police retrieved the flag and gave it back to the protesters.
“I did not want anything like this, but I got a call from a student who told me that the flag was on the ground, and they were walking on it,” she told the local Valdosta Daily Times newspaper.
“I don’t know what their cause is, but I went to pick it up because it doesn’t deserve to be on the ground.”
Manhart said she wasn’t even aware of what the group was protesting about. “I’m not fighting against them. I’m fighting against the way they are going about it,” she said.
Manhart, who was stationed for a time in the Middle East, caused an uproar in 2007 for posing nude in Playboy while she was still on active duty, working as a drill sergeant. Some photos showed her in uniform.
Apparently that form of free expression came with repercussions. She was reprimanded by the Air Force and demoted from her job at Lackland Air Force Base. She appeared a second time nude in the Mexican edition of Playboy.
“I didn’t do anything wrong, so I didn’t think it would be a major issue,” she said at the time. She went on to pose nude for animal rights group PETA.
“Since I was 12 years old I have dreamed of being in Playboy,” she told the magazine.
Her stunning nude Playboy photos are too risque for this site, but you can see them at EssCurve.com. Let us know your thoughts and be sure to follow IM on Twitter for the latest pop culture news.