Pats gear torched by burnt-up fan

Swansea man: Flag, an­them ‘unites us’

Boston Herald - - NEWS - By BOB McGOVERN — bob.mcgovern@boston­her­ald.com Chris Vil­lani con­trib­uted to this story.

SWANSEA — Mark Shane’s phone has been ring­ing non­stop for two days, and as he sat on his front steps un­der an Amer­i­can flag mov­ing softly with the crisp fall breeze, he shook his head and re­counted the jersey-burn­ing protest that turned his front yard into a “rally for our vet­er­ans.”

“This whole thing wasn’t about Repub­li­cans or Democrats or race. That’s not what it was,” Shane said of his Thurs­day night bon­fire of New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots jer­seys and T-shirts.

“It’s very sim­ple,” he said. “It’s about the na­tional an­them and the flag. That’s what unites us as Amer­i­cans.”

More than 100 peo­ple came to Shane’s yard to toss their Pa­tri­ots sports­wear into a fire pit to protest play­ers tak­ing a knee dur­ing the singing of the na­tional an­them. Vet­er­ans sang “The Star-Span­gled Ban­ner” around the blaze as lo­cal au­thor­i­ties closed down nearby streets be­cause they feared things could get out of hand.

Shane said it was all peace­ful, but the af­ter­math has been “over­whelm­ing.” He has screen­shots of threats peo­ple have made on­line — in­clud­ing one from a man who posed the idea of burn­ing down Shane’s home.

“It has been mostly good, but there are a few crazy peo­ple who have called, say­ing I should die or what­not,” he said.

The idea for the rally came when Shane was at the Pa­tri­ots’ 36-33 win over the Hous­ton Tex­ans last Sun­day. He said he heard boos when more than a dozen Pa­tri­ots play­ers took a knee dur­ing the an­them, and he left the game with “a bad taste in my mouth.”

That’s when Shane de­cided to make his front yard ground zero for those who wanted to sup­port the an­them and burn Pa­tri­ots gear.

“This is about pride. It’s about pride in your coun­try,” he said. “I have no prob­lem with peo­ple protest­ing, but just don’t do it dur­ing the an­them.”

Shane didn’t burn all of his Pa­tri­ots gear, and he said he was a lit­tle up­set to see Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski jer­seys go up in flames. The items that didn’t burn were put in a box that he said he plans to send to peo­ple suf­fer­ing in Puerto Rico.

Bos­ton Mayor Martin J. Walsh called the Pats gear pyre “fool­ish” and slammed

Pres­i­dent Trump for taunt­ing the NFL over the protests.

Shane said he didn’t want to re­spond but added: “Tell the vet­er­ans who care that it’s fool­ish.”

For now, Shane said he’s try­ing to get back to nor­mal. There is lit­tle trace of the fire pit, and dec­o­ra­tions from the protest are in his garage — flags and bunting be­fit­ting a Fourth of July pa­rade.

The Swansea Fire Depart­ment ended up slap­ping Shane with two tick­ets — one for $300 and an­other for $100 — for us­ing a fire pit for the “dis­posal of rub­bish” and dis­obey­ing or­ders from the fire chief.

“Maybe I’ll ap­peal,” Shane said, read­just­ing his dog’s Amer­i­can flag ban­dana. “We’ll see.”

PHOTO COUR­TESY BOS­TON 25 NEWS

FIRED UP: A huge crowd gath­ers Thurs­day night in Mark Shane’s yard in Swansea to burn Pa­tri­ots jer­seys and T-shirts in re­sponse to play­ers tak­ing a knee dur­ing the na­tional an­them on Sun­day at Gil­lette Sta­dium.

STAFF PHOTO BY CHRIS CHRISTO

PAT AN­SWER: Mark Shane says he left Sun­day’s game in Foxboro with ‘a bad taste in my mouth,’ giv­ing him the idea to burn Pa­tri­ots gear as a ‘rally for our vet­er­ans.’

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