Arson charge dropped against Manitou Springs woman

Patricia Cameron of Manitou Springs carried out a public burning of a Confederate flag Saturday afternoon in Soda Springs Park despite bouts of heavy rain and a small turnout. (Jack Howland, The Gazette)

A Manitou Springs woman who organized a Confederate flag burning was cited late Wednesday night on suspicion of arson, the Manitou Springs Police Department said in a press release issued Thursday.

Patricia Cameron, 32, who runs the southern Colorado news blog, was served and released after 11 p.m. Wednesday on suspicion of fourth-degree arson for burning a Confederate flag under the pavilion in Soda Springs Park July 4.

Photos of the event on the Facebook page #BurnTheConfederate, advertising the event, show a partially melted Confederate flag in a grill. A barbecue was to follow the "peaceful protest," according to the event's description.

A YouTube video posted the day after the event shows Cameron nearby as one man holds the flag while another man sets it on fire. She does not appear to touch the flag while it was burning.

Cameron declined to comment.

Manitou Springs police say they strongly support people's First Amendment rights, but want everyone to exercise them in a safe way.

"An accelerant was poured onto the flag, which was held over a small grill, lit with a lighter, at which point flames erupted," police wrote in a press release. "The situation posed a risk of danger to the property and citizens of Manitou Springs, as there were multiple people in the area."

Police learned of the event on July 4, said spokeswoman Officer Odette Saglimbeni. Police were responding to a serious house fire down the street on Canon Avenue at the time, and did not stop the flag burning during the event.

A police investigation determined that three people were involved, and two have been identified, including Cameron. The other identified party has not been contacted, and police are working to identify the third person.

Grilling or barbecuing is not allowed under the Soda Springs Park pavilion, Saglimbeni wrote in an email. People can grill in parks, but only with gas grills.


Contact Kassondra Cloos: 636-0362

Twitter: @Kassondra Cloos

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