Flag burned, then raised, in act of vandalism
After honoring Sept. 11, residents of the Lake Meade gated community awoke the next day to find one of their American flags in pieces on the ground, burned beyond repair.
The flag, located just outside the community gates, had flown at half-staff during the day on Sept. 11, and was raised at sunset.
Between dusk of that night and about 5 a.m. Friday, someone lowered the flag, set it on fire and raised it while it was lit, according to Reading Township police officer William Ceravola, who responded to the call. Police are still investigating the incident, he said.
A community security officer noticed the American flag was not on the flagpole at about 5 a.m. on Friday, and when he went to fix it, he discovered the burned flag in pieces on the ground, Ceravola said.
“There was a little bit of remains, but it’s not displayable,” he said.
Some residents were not aware Friday that the incident had taken place, but others expressed outrage at the act.
“I think whoever did it, they’re a coward, and it’s unspeakable,” said resident Kristine Huff, who has lived in the community for seven years.
Huff works in the community’s guardhouse and said she heard about the incident from a coworker when she went to pick up her paycheck Friday morning.
“It’s just a shame and I can’t believe someone would have that audacity,” she said. “If they think they’re making a statement, they’re even stupider. They probably did it after midnight, so it would have made it Sept. 12.”
Ceravola said he has never had a report like this come from the Lake Meade community. When he arrived at the scene Tuesday morning, residents were visibly upset, he said.
“I think people are pretty upset, particularly because it happened on Sept. 11. It was very disrespectful on 9/11,” he added.
Flag desecration, although controversial and often brought before the U.S. Supreme Court, is legal; however, because the flag belonged to the Lake Meade community, it is considered destruction of property.
None of the other flags inside of community were damaged, Ceravola said.
Community members are already working on replacing the flag, according to Ceravola, who offered them an American flag from his own collection.
Anyone with information about the crime is asked to contact Reading Township Police at (717) 624-2102 or the Adams County Crimestoppers at (717) 334-8057 or (800) 869-8057. Adams County Crimestoppers is offering a reward of an undisclosed amount to anyone with information leading to an arrest.
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