Boston Police have identified and located a suspect who allegedly vandalized a number of the 2,997 small American flags planted in the Boston Public Garden Sept. 9 in remembrance of those lives lost during the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Flags were reportedly snapped in half, knocked over and scattered on the sidewalk.
Sergeant Detective John Boyle of the Boston Police Department said a suspect was located but not yet apprehended.
“The suspect was identified and located,” Boyle said, “Detectives will seek complaints against him in the Boston Municipal Court.”
The flags were planted by Project 351, a youth-run organization based in Massachusetts which aims “to develop the next generation of community-first service leaders,” according to their website. The group wanted to commemorate those lost to the Sept. 11 attacks, including 206 Massachusetts residents.
Police have not yet released information regarding the alleged perpetrator, including his motivations or age. Boyle didn’t say if there were any indications that this was a pattern, calling it “simply vandalism.”
The flag display has since been restored.
“I think this is an isolated incident,” Boyle said.
Marcus Merisier, a nurse’s aide at Mount Auburn Hospital, said he believes that maybe a conspiracy theorist or a cynical person must have committed this seemingly random act of vandalism.
“It doesn’t really make sense to vandalize memorials,” Merisier said.
Grace Greason, a senior studying biology at Harvard University, said she doesn’t personally remember the Sept. 11 attacks but understands the vandalism as a negative reaction to the patriotism usually tied to 9/11 memorials.
“They just see a flag, and they vandalize it,” Greason said.
Reflecting on the vandalism, Greason said she thinks people are becoming detached from 9/11 because modern times have complicated the typical patriotic response.
“I think people are, they’re talking about terrorism and America’s place in the geopolitical world with a more critical analysis, so it’s not as black and white as it used to be and that might change things,” she said. “It’s a much more complex topic.”