From Newsday, June 23:
In a Brooklyn neighborhood known for its patriotic fervor, residents were shocked Thursday to discover that seven American flags displayed outside homes had been set ablaze overnight, including one on a block named for a firefighter who died on Sept. 11.
Police said they believed the incident in Marine Park probably was the work of pranksters rather than anyone trying to make an anti-American statement. Still, neighbors were furious.
“I just can’t believe that somebody would do that to my home,” Regina Coyle said outside her Avenue R home, on a block named for her son. Firefighter James Coyle was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the World Trade Center.
At first, Coyle, 55, said she suspected she was targeted because of her son. Later, she discovered six other homes had also been targeted, apparently at random.
That news did nothing to comfort Jeanine Murphy.
“This is a slap in the face for all veterans and all Americans,” Murphy, 37, said outside her home on East 38th Street, a block where even the fire hydrants are red, white, and blue. “To put my family in peril for either a prank or for whatever reason is unacceptable and cowardly. Our young men and women are protecting and serving our country every day and it’s a hate crime to do this, no matter who did this.
“They should take whoever did this and take them to a veterans’ hospital and show them people who were hurt or maimed while protecting this flag.”
The vandalism occurred sometime Wednesday night or Thursday morning, with three flags burned on East 38th Street, two on East 36th Street and two on Avenue R.
The damage in each case was minimal, with the flames extinguishing themselves in several cases and the victimized homeowners not realizing what had happened until they stepped outside in the morning to get their newspapers or leave for work.
The arsons are being investigated by detectives and fire marshals. The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Unit would get involved only if investigators believed the fires were motivated by a bias toward Americans, police said.
“This is a very patriotic block, even before 9/11,” said another victimized homeowner, Susie Campbell, 37. “I’m just very angry and I want to know who did this. I planned to take pictures with my daughter with the flag in the background.”
Thursday, police had no suspects in custody.
Still, neighbors were undaunted. Tod Davis, 45, put up a flag in front of his home yesterday. His home was not targeted by the arsonist and he said it is important to display his patriotism, even as his son, Ben, 6, suggested he shouldn’t.
“Dad, don’t put it out,” Ben told him. “They may burn it.”
“It’s very important to have this out there,” his father responded. “There’s a war on terror going on.”
The vandalism recalled an incident in 2000 in the same neighborhood, when several Christmas wreaths and other holiday decorations were burned, but police said that incident is unrelated.
See our last post on the Brooklyn Intifada.