WASHINGTONVILLE, N.Y. (AP) - Police charged a 40-year-old man with cutting down a flagpole at a Sept. 11 memorial in upstate New York, an act of vandalism that prompted local and national outrage.
Andre Narbonne was arraigned Friday on charges related to a vandalized church sign and three severed flagpoles 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of New York City, including one at a memorial honoring five New York City firefighters from Washingtonville who died in the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, according to the Times Herald-Record.
The memorial desecration on July 8 spurred a spate of media coverage, with some conservatives implying it was the work of radicals. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, warned on Twitter that it showed what will “come to your home town” if Democrats win in November.
But police on Friday did not offer a motive. A photo attached to a press release showed a message scrawled on the base of the severed pole in Washingtonville reading: “God does not want the U.S. bent on a virus! Don’t be idolatrous.” Officials did not indicate who wrote the message.
“It is sickening to me that someone could do something like this while not caring about the sacrifices that have been suffered by those who have defended our freedom,” New Windsor Police Chief Robert Doss said.
Narbonne also was charged with cutting down flagpoles at a strip mall and a cemetery in early July in nearby New Windsor. He was arraigned on felony and misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief and released.
A phone number could not be found for the New Windsor resident and it was not clear if he had a lawyer.
Police said Narbonne traveled to Washington state after cutting the poles.