The limits of free speech in protests

The protests surrounding the police killings of black men have provided fertile ground for a discussion of First Amendment issues and today Providence, Rhode Island, is the latest example.

In Providence, the First Amendment allows this:

Steve Ahlquist / YouTube

… but not this:

Steve Ahlquist / YouTube

Why not?

Because he’s a Providence firefighter and he saluted the flag-burning while standing in the city’s public safety building.

Today, Boston.com reports officials say he’ll be disciplined.

“They have their first amendment right to exercise, but while they are on-duty public safety officers cannot be inciting a crowd of protesters,” Providence public safety commissioner Steve Pare tells the Providence Journal.