World War II-era US flag returned to Reno, Nevada after protests by an anonymous sender

A World War II-era flag that was presumably stolen during a protest in Nevada was safely returned this week to a journalist who covered its disappearance.

The flag went missing during protests near Reno City Hall on Saturday when its display case was found broken. City officials assumed the flag had been lost. The flag flew on the cruiser USS Reno during World War II and was donated to the city in 1946.

Kenzie Margiott, a reporter for CNN affiliate KRNV in Reno, said she received a package Tuesday from an anonymous sender. Inside, she found the tattered flag, which she’d written about the day before.

“I kind of paused for a second, looked around at everyone, and I’m like — guys, the flag,” she said. “The flag I wrote a story about just yesterday.”

Tucked inside the flag was a note: “Needed protecting. Looters were flag burning. RIP Gorge [sic] Floyd.”

Margiott doesn’t know who sent her the flag, but she quickly returned it to city officials.

“This is a symbol of the goodness of human beings,” Reno Vice Mayor Devon Reese said. “This is a symbol of the resilience our community has.”

At least 23 people were arrested during Saturday’s protests in downtown Reno, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported. Most were charged with resisting an officer or trespassing.

Last weekend, in response to the protests, the Reno Police Department extended the city’s unlawful assembly boundary, so anyone gathering in public in groups of two or more could be arrested.

The city had issued a mandatory curfew of 5:30 p.m. that was later lifted this week, though the city still discourages groups of 50 or more from gathering.

The USS Reno was a cruiser specializing in anti-aircraft warfare. It joined the Pacific Fleet in 1944 and saw action in multiple operations, earning three battle stars in the process. The ship was struck by two torpedoes fired from a Japanese submarine on November 3, 1944, during the last engagement in the Battle of Leyte Gulf near the Philippines.

The cruiser did not sink thanks to “skillful seamanship, courage, and the unremitting effort of those remaining on board,” according to the US Navy’s history of the ship. The ship returned to service after repairs but was decommissioned in November 1946. The Reno eventually was sold for scrap in 1962.