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Man allegedly urinated on American flags in Somerville veterans cemetery

By Steve Annear and Abigail Feldman Globe Staff and Globe Correspondent 

Somerville police are hoping to identify a person of interest in connection with a report that a man entered the Somerville Veterans Cemetery and urinated on American flags he had uprooted from the city’s World War II memorial, police said.

In an e-mail, Somerville Police Deputy Chief James Stanford wrote Tuesday that police have been alerted to a Facebook post in which a man described witnessing the incident Monday while passing the cemetery on Broadway.

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“We are aware of the Facebook posting and have opened an investigation into the matter,’’ Stanford wrote Tuesday. “This is an active and ongoing investigation and no further information is available at this time.”

Police are asking the public to help identify the man pictured in the Facebook post.

In the post, the man wrote that he was driving on Broadway when he was stopped behind a bus and saw a group of people in their early to mid-20s enter the cemetery and approach the statue built in honor of the World War II veterans.

“The guy took the flags and tossed them behind the statue. What I saw him do next pushed me to a point where I said to myself ‘ENOUGH,’ ” he wrote. “The guy started urinating on the flags.“

The man took photographs of four small American flags that were lying on the ground and clearly soaked with a liquid and posted them to his Facebook account.

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He wrote that he got out of his car and walked behind them, announcing as they walked down the street what he had seen. He then drove ahead of the people and took photographs of a man and a woman he said was responsible.

More than 800 comments were posted to his account as a result of his post. “I understand everyone’s outrage but do not condone taking action into your own hands,’’ he wrote. “Taking action into your own hands will only distract from what they did. Don’t give them anything to use in their favor.”

In an update posted Tuesday, he said he was interviewed by Somerville police. “They are all over this,’’ he wrote.

Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone called the vandalism “despicable” in a statement.

“If these allegations are true, they are offensive not only to our community and our own veterans, but to our entire nation and those who served and continue to serve,” he said.


John R Ellement of the Globe staff contributed Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com
Follow him on Twitter @steveannear
Abigail Feldman can be reached at abigail.feldman@globe.com