Santa Barbara police tackled a man after he allegedly cut down the American flag in De La Guerra Plaza Wednesday night.
He was spotted by police nearby with the help of an eyewitness who followed him after seeing the incident.
The man has been identified as 49-year-old Kenneth Ruz.
The arrest took place on the corner of Ortega and Santa Barbara streets shortly after 10 p.m. when patrol officers spotted Ruz with his belongings walking on foot.
After some questioning, police tried to take Ruz into custody but there was a struggle, captured by a NewsChannel 3 camera at the scene. Ruz ended up on the pavement but was unhurt. He was handcuffed and taken to the police station.
The flag was discovered undamaged, back in the plaza, but left on the ground. It was picked up by police as evidence.
Police have not released details on what led to the incident.
Sgt. Riley Harwood said the eyewitness was essential to the arrest. "He was absolutely critical and he was the one who first saw the incident and called police." The witness was not named.
Ruz was arrested for vandalism and resisting or delaying a police officer. Both are misdemeanors.