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NY man charged with cutting down flagpole at FF 9/11 memorial

Police say Andre Narbonne, 40, severed the flagpole at the memorial for five firefighters from Washingtonville who died on 9/11, as well as two other flagpoles


Chris McKenna
The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y.

NEW WINDSOR, N.Y. — Police charged a 40-year-old New Windsor man on Friday with cutting down a flagpole at a 9/11 memorial in Washingtonville and severing two other flagpoles in New Windsor in a three-day spree last month.

Andre Narbonne was arraigned in New Windsor court on both felony and misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief and released. He is due back in that court on Aug. 25 and set to appear in Washingtonville court on Sept. 9

The desecration of a memorial honoring five New York City firefighters from Washingtonville who perished at the World Trade Center in the 2001 terrorist attacks had spurred outrage and a spate of media coverage and online commentary, portrayed by conservatives as the work of destructive radicals. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, warned on Twitter that it showed what will “come to your home town” if Democrats win in November.

But the joint press release from the New Windsor and Washingtonville police, which included a statement from District Attorney David Hoovler, gave no indication why the suspect allegedly cut down three flag poles. An attached photo showed a message that was scrawled on the base on the severed Washingtonville pole, without indicating if the suspect is thought to have written it.

“God does not want the U.S. bent on a virus!” the message read. “Don’t be idolatrous.”

Police say Narbonne traveled to the State of Washington after cutting the poles, which delayed his arrest until he recently returned to New York. New Windsor Chief Robert Doss commended his officers for identifying Narbonne, apparently based on surveillance camera videos. The press release included a camera image that showed someone cutting a pole at a New Windsor strip mall.

Doss called the vandalism “disgraceful and offensive.”

“It is sickening to me that someone could do something like this while not caring about the sacrifices that have been suffered by those who have defended our freedom,” he said.

Washingtonville Police Chief Brian Zaccaro said the arrest brought “some closure from the unsettling incidents,” and praised the cooperation among law enforcement agencies. His department and New Windsor’s said they collaborated with the State Police, FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office and the Hudson Valley Crime Analysis Center.

“If it was not for the dedicated and professional men and women in our law enforcement agencies, crimes like these could easily go unsolved,” Zaccaro said.

Washingtonville police charged Narbonne with cutting the flap pole and knocking over a church sign on July 8. New Windsor police say the two flag poles severed at a strip mall and cemetery in their town were reported to them on July 9 and July 10.

“Obviously, the deliberate defacing and destruction of flag-poles and property in areas set aside to remember the fallen heroes of September 11, 2001, and at places of religious worship is especially distressing to all in the community,” Hoovler said.


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