Woodbridge residents rally for American flags to be put back up
Hundreds of demonstrators held a rally Sunday against a recent decision to take down American flags placed along multiple overpasses in Woodbridge.
A group of local veterans have been displaying and caring for the flags for almost 20 years following Sept. 11, 2001.
Those veterans say they were recently told by the New Jersey Department of Transportation that the flags were going to be taken down because they were a distraction to drivers. In addition to being perceived as a distraction, the group had received complaints about a pro-law enforcement flag being displayed on the bridge, but they removed and replaced it.
The protest, hosted by Patriotic Bridges of Port Reading/Sewaren, sought to bring awareness of the flags removed by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and to bring the flags back to bridges in the area.
Woodbridge Township resident Carmine Pannullo was a first responder during Sept. 11 and says flying flags is the "least that we can do" for the men and women lost during that day.
"It's something that if you experience, you'll never forget," Pannullo says. "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."
The NJTA says it cannot adequately monitor flags mounted by private citizens to make sure they are safely and securely hung, properly displayed and respectfully maintained.
It says it hopes that those who want to display the American flag find a suitable location to do so.
A statement from the New Jersey Turnpike Authority says in part: "The long-standing policy of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority has been to prohibit the display of any flags, signs or banners by private parties on Turnpike Authority property. 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 NJTA maintains more than 1,100 bridges and other structures throughout more than 100 municipalities.what