Weiner Gives Capitol Flags To Marine Park Vandal Victims
Within hours after Weiner heard that flags flying outside the homes of two families on Avenue R and five more around the corners on East 36th and East 38th streets were burned on June 22, he promised to replace them with new Stars and Stripes that were flown over the Capitol building in Washington, DC.
Weiner presented flags, plus certificates of authenticity, to two victims - Regina Coyle of Avenue R and Michael and Susie Campbell of East 38th Street - of the apparent vandalism on the steps of the Coyle residence. A third victim, Jea`0*/nine Murphy, who also lives on East 38th Street and present at the ceremony, and the other families were subsequently given new 3'x5' flags in a box.
Weiner's presentation came two weeks after staff members from City Councilman Lew Fidler's office in Mill Basin visited the neighborhood in the evening after the desecrations and presented each homeowner with new American flags.
Due to scheduling and other logistical problems, it took longer than expected for the congressman to gather the flags, authenticate them and bring them to the south Brooklyn community.
When Weiner vowed to replace the flags on June 23, he said, "No neighborhood in our city is more patriotic than Marine Park. ...This vandalism will not dampen our spirit, it will intensify it. As the police hunt for the vandals, we will show our colors."
Avenue R, between East 35th and 36th streets, is named for firefighter James Coyle who died at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Shortly thereafter, his mother Regina Coyle began flying the American flag outside her home. It was one of the ones torched, but Coyle replaced it later in the day.
In addition to the banners received from Weiner and Fidler, several residents received flags or related items from other sources. Coyle told the Courier she received a drawing of a flag from one of her nursery school students where she teaches. Murphy said a neighbor, Thomas Walsh, recently completed his tour of duty in Iraq with the Marines, gave her a flag when he learned of the incident.
Michael Campbell, who works for the Transit Authority, said he's flying the flag he got from Fidler in front of his house and will probably buy a case for the one that he received from Weiner because "it's special."
After the flags were vandalized, Fidler and Staten Island Councilman James Oddo drafted a bill to establish a $10,000 fine - per flag - for anyone caught burning an American flag on private property. State Senator Martin Golden has offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone connected to the Marine Park flag burnings.
Police said a group of teenagers were likely responsible for the flag burnings, which remains under investigation as criminal mischief. While it is not a crime to burn a flag, igniting one is arson, and that is a crime. At press time no arrests had been made.