BELEN—The person who allegedly took down numerous flags around Belen a few weeks ago said he did it because of his feelings about President Donald Trump. The man was arrested today.

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Lawrence Garcia, of Los Lunas, was caught on surveillance cameras taking an American flag.

On the night of Aug. 13, the Belen Police Department began an investigation into someone removing and stealing American flags from several locations around the city, including from the Chavez-Curran VFW Post 2387, the Belen Fire Department and the Motor Vehicle Division building on Fifth Street, the 9/11 Memorial Park, the U.S. Post Office and the Belen Schools administrative building on Main Street, and at Anna Becker Park on Reinken Avenue. Several of the flags were found on the ground at the park.

Today, Belen officers arrested Los Lunas resident Lawrence Garcia, 49, and charged him with larceny, disorderly conduct, public nuisance and evading an officer.

According to a press release, Garcia was seen on surveillance video from the Belen Schools administrative building lowering a flag, and creating a nuisance at a local business. When approached by officers, Garcia had took off running, but was quickly apprehended near a local elementary school.

While being questioned by Belen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez, Garcia admitted to him to removing the two flags he had with him, including one from Anna Becker Park.

Garcia told the chief his reasoning for taking certain flags was, “because the United States under Donald Trump is under duress.”

Garcia has been booked into the Valencia County Detention Center.


Clara Garcia is a native of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. She is the president of the New Mexico Newspaper Association, and is a member of the Pilot Club of Belen.

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