Eric Sheppard Anti-Flag Protest Ignites Patriotism Debate

A hashtag in support of Eric Sheppard, who protested racism in America by stomping on the flag, has been hijacked by the ultra patriotic

May 03, 2015 at 3:06 PM ET

A hashtag meant to protest racism in America through stomping on the American flag has been hijacked by patriots, who are shaming the stompers for being anti-American.

The hashtag, #EricSheppardChallenge, was posted more than 6,200 times since student Eric Sheppard led an anti-flag protest on Valdosta State University campus in Georgia almost two weeks ago. On April 21, Sheppard was seen stomping on an American flag during the student protest, before Air Force Veteran Michelle Manhart grabbed it off the floor.

On Tuesday, police found a gun in an abandoned backpack they believe belonged to Sheppard, and he has been on the run ever since. It is a felony to bring weapons to a school safety zone. Authorities say the FBI is also investigating Sheppard for making terrorist threats on social media, WCTV reported.

Hundreds of people, including celebrities like rapper Lil Wayne, are posting #EricSheppardChallenge videos on social media, in which they film themselves mimicking Sheppard’s actions. They did it, for the most part, in protest of police brutality and racism in the country. However, these videos have ignited a firestorm of ultra-patriotic response tweets and Instagrams, berating those who they deemed desecrated the flag. Many of these tweets have racist undertones, or even blatant racism, within them.

Erica Walker posted a video of herself, via Facebook and Instagram, stomping on the American flag. She writes in the caption: “You have given us NO justice so we shall give you NO peace.” Two days later, she said she was receiving multiple death threats.

Other posts in support of Sheppard:

Posts speaking out against Sheppard:

“So my challenge to those people who are willing to do the Eric Sheppard challenge is get out. Leave the United States. Because honestly, we don’t really want you here.”