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American Flags Taken Down, Poles Destroyed In Rockaway Park

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- It's a mystery in Rockaway Park – someone or something is making a mockery of the American flag, and residents want to know what is causing it.

Old Glory waves prominently along Rockaway Beach Boulevard, mounted on angular poles that are attached to utility posts between Beach 110th and Beach 116th streets.

"It makes me happy to see that," one resident said.

"This is such a great piece of New York and of America," another said. "I mean, to me, New York is what America is all about. And it starts here."

But over the weekend, some American flags on the strip disappeared. Poles were bent, and some flags were left dangling.

Many residents said given that the damage was done just before Independence Day, it is disgraceful.

"I feel like a part of me is torn out," one resident said.

"I think the flag should mean a lot to a lot of people," another said.

Rosa Pietri said she was disheartened after seeing a damaged flagpole hanging next to a bus stop near her house. She wanted to blame severe weekend weather instead of vandals.

"In front of my house, there's no vandalism," she said. "I don't allow it."

"I think it's just mischief," another resident said.

A representative of the local community board said the main concern right now is safety. The board is looking to have the poles taken down before someone gets hurt.

Kelly Geoghegan said if someone intentionally tore down the flags, it adds insult to injury.

"It means we're all together. We stand together. We care about each other," she said, adding that when someone takes a flag down, "it hurts."

Young Joan Geoghegan said there is an important lesson to be learned about the flag.

"It means that if you don't protect the flag, you're going to a very bad place, because that's not respecting our country," she said.

The Rockaway Civic Association put up most of the flags right after Superstorm Sandy. Others, including the now-damaged ones, went up around Memorial Day.

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