Cherokee marshal arrests Tulsa musician for allegedly trampling flag
BY SUSAN HYLTON World Staff Writer
Monday, July 20, 2009
7/20/09 at 6:30 PM
CATOOSA — A Tulsa musician was arrested at the Cherokee Casino last week in connection with allegedly trampling an American flag in his act.
Records show the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service arrested Marion Gooding III, 30, lead guitarist with the band Smunty Voje, around 10:30 p.m. Thursday.
The complaint was originally treating the U.S. flag with indignity, a felony under state law, and later amended to outraging public decency, a misdemeanor.
Gooding, a non-Indian, was booked into the Rogers County jail early Friday and released more than 12 hours later on a $500 bond. He has not been charged.
A probable cause affidavit was filed in Rogers County District Court by Cherokee Nation Marshal Service Deputy Marshal Jon Ketcher, who is cross-deputized with the Rogers County Sheriff’s Office.
Ketcher is a Cherokee citizen and veteran of the Gulf and Iraq wars serving with the Marine Corps and Army National Guard.
Rogers County Assistant District Attorney Patrick Abitbol said while state law prohibits flag offenses, federal law protects it as a display of free speech.
“It was apparent that if a charge was filed it would not be a felony. It’s one of those situations where Oklahoma has the offense on the books, but federal and Supreme Courts have upheld that type of action is protected free speech. It’s our job to follow the law. I don’t agree with it, but that’s the law,” Abitbol said. “It is not a crime to do things to the U.S. flag that most people don’t like.”
A DA spokeswoman said they are waiting to view the video of the incident. The video reportedly depicts Gooding throwing down the flag and trampling on it while on stage.
Ketcher said in his affidavit that he observed the alleged incident while on duty at what will soon be referred to as the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino while standing in front of the entrance to the new night club, Friction.
Ketcher said in his affidavit that Gooding had the flag draped around his neck and shoulders. Later in the performance, Ketcher said Gooding “allowed the U.S. flag to touch the floor multiple times then he wadded up the flag in his fist and shook it in the air before he threw it to the floor then trampled, stomped and danced on top of it.”
Security later picked up the flag from the floor where it was “wadded up next to an amp with guitars stacked on top,” Ketcher said.
Attorney General spokesman Charlie Price said that the state law on flag offenses has not been declared unconstitutional and is not currently being challenged.
Gooding referred questions to his attorney Tim Studebaker who could not be immediately reached.
The band’s Myspace page, including several songs, can be accessed at
Marion William Gooding, 30, was arrested at the Cherokee Casino in Catoosa after he allegedly trampled an American flag during a performance.
Cherokee Nation Marshal Service Deputy Marshal Jon Ketcher, who arrested musician Marion Gooding after allegedly seeing Gooding step on a U.S. flag during a performance at the Cherokee Casino in Catoosa, is a veteran of the Gulf and Iraq wars. FILE PHOTO. ARAM BOGHOSIAN/Tulsa World