Hausman Street residents received a rude awakening Friday morning when they discovered that the most patriotic block in Greenpoint was once again the victim of vandalism.
Three of the street’s celebrated flags were destroyed by the vandal, who also bent ten flagpoles, and broke five more. Caught on surveillance video, the perpetrator is described as a male Hispanic in his 20s, who was walking like he was intoxicated. Photos pulled from that camera were grainy and failed to catch his face, but police hope to get better quality shots from another Hausman Street resident and to release the photos to the public.
Residents were stunned that someone would damage the flags so close to 9/11. “A lot of people were asking ‘Why? Just why?’” said Bob McErlean, who has maintained the flags since their installation after the 2001 World Trade Center attacks. He, along with neighbor Francis Flynn, quickly replaced the damaged flags and poles and repaired those which were bent.
In addition to restoring their civic pride, on the morning of September 11th, McErlean hung a new flag in front of the Hausman Street home of Catherine Fagan, who was killed in the 9/11 attacks. (Several years ago, the street was renamed Catherine Fagan Way in her memory.) He also placed a second flag in front of her son’s home, also on Hausman, in her honor.
The desecration of the flags is hardly an isolated incident. McErlean said that “people steal or rip them” two or three times each year. $5.00 donations by the block’s residents pay for repairs to damaged or worn flags. The street’s biggest case of vandalism took place on January 3rd, 2004, when 21 flags were destroyed. Replacements were funded by Assemblyman Joe Lentol and then Shomrim (Williamsburg’s volunteer safety patrol) leader Moses Weiser.
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