BY BRIAN TAYLOR
NEW YORK - About 40 Puerto Rican activists and others, many of them young, assembled here in front of the NBC studio May 13 to denounce the burning and trampling of a Puerto Rican flag and insulting comments against Puerto Ricans on an episode of the TV show Seinfeld.
Protesters arrived at 6:00 a.m. with rolled up banners, posters, and flags, planning to unfurl them when the NBC morning news studio camera routinely flashes through the crowd as part of the program. At showtime, 7:00 a.m., demonstrators held up large Puerto Rican flags and posters that read, "The Puerto Rican flag is not a joke!" responding to Seinfeld's unapologetic explanation that the flag burning was just a joke.
"Why did he choose a Puerto Rican flag, why didn't he burn an American flag?" asked protester Eladio Quiñones. "Puerto Ricans have fought and died in this country's wars and still don't get any respect. What did we die for? Nothing. Now they use Puerto Rico as a military launching base."
Another protester, who gave his name only as Tone, said, "I am here because I am offended and outraged by the act of those so-called comedians. The stomping of the flag was no random accident, it was a symbol. I think it is time to tell people we won't tolerate this anymore - from anyone!" He mentioned that the future of Puerto Rico is being discussed right now by the U.S. government. When asked where he stood on the status of the Caribbean island, he said, "I want a nation, I am for independence. I don't believe we should give our land to anyone."
As a result of the protest, the news program changed its format and omitted the crowd shot altogether, which normally starts off the show. A similar protest is called for 5:00 p.m. on May 14 at the same building.
In San Juan, Puerto Rico, the flag burning became a
rallying point during a march to commemorate the 100-year
anniversary of the U.S. naval attack on the Puerto Rican
capital. Public outrage has even brought statements of
condemnation from U.S. and Puerto Rican government
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