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New Jersey’s Department of Transportation has come under fire for ordering the removal of flags hung on overpasses in memory of lives lost on 9/11.
Days before the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on The U.S., flags that have been hung on New Jersey highway overpasses for years were reportedly ordered to be taken down by the state’s turnpike authority because they were deemed a “distraction.”
(Source: Fox News)
“There’s never been an issue before the last 20 years. It’s definitely not a distraction,” veteran Mark Tolley told “Fox & Friends” on Sunday from an overpass in Woodbridge Township where a rally was scheduled.
“They claim that they’ve received complaints that they’re unsafe, they’re not secured properly. They’ve given numerous reasons why they want to remove them, and it’s a shame they do it at this time, right before September 11th,” Tolley said, noting the importance of the symbols to the community.
“My family’s very patriotic. This whole community supports law enforcement, veterans. The flags should be up,” he said, adding that he believes the reason the change is being made is because of pressure by anti-police groups.
“I believe that there’s certain groups that are anti-police that want to defund the police, and they made complaints. And the authority listened to them,” he said.
More than a dozen flags which were either “missing or tattered” from overpasses along the New Jersey Turnpike and Interstate 195 were recently replaced at the expense of the police union representing Robbinsville Township, near Trenton, according to Michael Slininger, the president of the group.
“American flags have been flown on overpasses throughout the state and throughout the nation since 9/11,” he wrote on the Robbinsville Township Police Benevolent Association’s Facebook page on Monday.
“Now, as we approach the anniversary of that horrific day, we are extremely disappointed to announce that the NJ Turnpike Authority saw fit to remove all flags on overpasses covering the N.J.T.P. last week, replacing them with signs citing … a code which is meant to apply to advertisement material or improper road signage,” he added.
Last month, Robbinsville P.B.A. Local 344 purchased over a dozen American flags to replace those that were either…
Posted by Robbinsville Twp PBA #344 on Sunday, September 6, 2020
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority cited a “longstanding policy” that prohibited “the display of any flags, signs or banners by private parties on Turnpike Authority property,” according to News 12 New Jersey.
“While we appreciate the desire of some New Jersey residents to express their patriotism in these turbulent times by displaying flags on turnpike and parkway overpasses, Turnpike Authority regulations do not allow it,” the NJTPA’s statement continued.
But Slininger insisted the flags were “firmly secured” and the PBA would maintain the newly replaced flags just as it had done for years.
“We cannot understand why the N.J.T.P.A. has suddenly decided to abandon a tradition of patriotism and respect for our veterans. It is not known what happened to the brand new flags that we put up, but we truly hope they were respectfully disposed of, if not displayed elsewhere,” he said. “The placement of the flags was done in the same manner that has been done for nearly twenty years.”
Meanwhile, the group announced it “plans to re-hang the American flags on the overpasses throughout Robbinsville Township” in an event scheduled for Friday and with “the full support of Mayor Dave Fried,” a Republican.
Carmine Pannullo, a 9/11 first responder, was part of a protest held on Sunday and told News 12 that flying the flags is the “least that we can do” to honor those who lost their lives on that day.
“It’s something that if you experience, you’ll never forget,” he said. “So the mere thought of flags just being flown on a bridge, it’s kind of silly compared to all those lives lost on 9/11.”
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