A small plane towing a banner that read “Vineyard Hypocrites!” circled Martha’s Vineyard Monday morning for at least an hour, angering residents who turned out in droves after the unexpected arrival last week of two planes carrying nearly 50 migrants sent by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
The migrants were housed and fed at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Edgartown from Wednesday evening to Friday morning before they were brought to Joint Base Cape Cod in Bourne for temporary shelter.
The island’s response was praised as “herculean” by state Representative Julian Cyr, and Governor Charlie Baker and other state officials also commended the community effort.
Many Vineyard residents took to the private “Islanders Talk” Facebook group on Monday to dish about the mysterious message in the sky.
“What’s with the plane flying around the island dragging a banner saying ISLAND HYPOCRITES?” one person posted.
Sandra Melkonian, an Aquinnah resident, said the plane circled over her area for at least 45 minutes.
“I was so upset. Understandably so,” Melkonian told the Globe.
Resident Liz Witham added that the plane flew over the island’s iconic Aquinnah Cliffs.
“The absolute idiocy of circling the cliffs ... which are owned by the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah, as well as the tribal shops for an hour with a sign that says ‘Vineyard Hypocrites’ is mind blowing,” Witham wrote.
Martha’s Vineyard Airport director Geoff Freeman said he’d been fielding calls about the banner all morning, but that the airport and airport traffic controllers had “no knowledge” of where the plane originated.
Freeman said airports must be specially permitted to do banner towing, and Martha’s Vineyard Airport is not.
“I doubt it’d be coming from Nantucket,” Freeman said, and offered other airfields from which the plane may have departed. “Maybe Falmouth, Chatham, Mansfield, Taunton, Plymouth.”
Islanders continued to air their frustrations on Facebook on Monday.
“It’s fantastic that people keep wasting money,” restaurant owner JB Blau quipped on Facebook. “[DeSantis] never thought people would be shown compassion. He didn’t realize citizens were capable of it. That’s why they teed up the hilarious talking point that we booted them off, cause that’s what they expected. They’re not smart, but they are mean.”
One person put it plainly: “The island is being harassed for being kind?”