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In a week, Flag Day, a day on which American citizens pay homage to the American flag as a symbol of freedom and pride, will be recognized. But in one section of Franklin Square, there has been a different treatment of the flag recently that has some residents disturbed.

The Nassau County Police Department Arson Squad is investigating a rash of incidents in which American flags displayed proudly in flag holders on homes have been burned.

According to Detective Brian Kaminsky of the Nassau County Police Department Arson Squad, from May 10 to May 16, there have been 14 incidents of burning American flags. In addition, two homes received minor structural damage, according to the detective. It is believed the incidents have occurred between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

The area that appears to be targeted is located south of Hempstead Turnpike in the neighborhood of Rintin Steet and Commonwealth Street.

Nassau County Crime Stoppers has gone as far as offering a $2,000 reward for information relating to the flag burning incidents.

New York State Assemblyman Tom Alfano's chief of staff Scott Cushing said the assemblyman and Franklin Square/Munson Fire Department Commissioner Doris Griffin have been going to some of the families whose flags were burned and giving replacement flags.

"Whoever the coward is who would burn a flag and cause damage to a home has to be stopped before somebody gets hurt. The reward offered by Crime Stoppers is a step in the direction," Alfano said.

Griffin urges residents of the area to exercise caution and perhaps take the flags in at night since there could be a danger to homes. Even with the possible danger, displaying the flag has not been dissuaded in the area, according to Griffin. "Other neighbors who have heard about it are putting flags up because they feel this is America and they're showing support for their country. None of us understand what's happening or why it's happening," she said.

Ever since the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, more flags have been displayed outside of homes. In a time that a show of patriotism is evident in Long Island communities, the act of burning a flag has some expressing concern.

"I was angry that actions such as that are happening in my community. The arsonist has to be stopped," said Dan Benigno, a student of St. John's University and a resident in the area of Franklin Square where the incidents have occurred.

Police are still investigating, but haven't had much to go on. It is believed, however, that the perpetrator or perpetrators are operating on foot. Detective Kaminsky said there have not been similar instances in other areas.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS.


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