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Two flags removed amid policy controversy

Sawyer Smook-Pollitt, editor@sippicanweek.cpom, Aug 2, 2023

A White House-shaped Little Free Diverse Library with green trim.
Photo by Sawyer Smook-Pollitt

ROCHESTER — Two flags flying on town-owned land in Rochester were removed following the adoption of a new flag policy in town which has sparked discussions.

A “Thin Blue Line” flag that flew on a town-owned flagpole at the Rochester police station and a diversity flag that flew on a Little Free Diverse Library built by the group Tri-Town Against Racism outside Plumb Library were both removed.

The “Thin Blue Line” flag is representative of support for police.

According to the flag policy that was adopted by the Rochester Select Board on July 10, only certain flags can be flown on town flagpoles “to keep it simple,” said Rochester Town Administrator Glenn Cannon.

The flags are: The United States flag, the Massachusetts state flag, the Rochester town flag, the POW flag and official flags of United States military branches, according to the policy.

The “Thin Blue Line” flag was removed on the week of Sunday, July 30, said Cannon, and the diversity flag was removed on July 20, said Tri-Town Against Racism President Alison Noyce.

According to Noyce, she received an email from Plumb Library Director Kristen Cardoso who asked that the flag be removed following a discussion with town counsel and the chair of the Plumb Library Board of Trustees.

“Tri-Town Against Racism has partnered with Plumb Library on many events,” said Noyce. “We appreciate the library director and staff greatly. We are sorry for the negative impact this flag controversy has caused them.”

Cannon said that the order to remove the diversity flag did not come from his office or from the Rochester Select Board.

However, Tri-Town Against Racism claims that because the flag was flown on the free-standing library and not a town flagpole, it is not subject to the flag policy.

The Little Free Diverse Library is owned and maintained by Tri-Town Against Racism, said Noyce.

“We'll fight to have the flag back and are seeking community support by contacting the Select Board and Board of Library Trustees,” wrote Tri-Town Against Racism in a statement. “Tri-Town Against Racism unequivocally supports the diverse individuals [who] are represented by the flag.”

Cardoso could not provide comment on details surrounding the removal of the flag. She said that the issue will be discussed at the next meeting of the Board of Library Trustees on Thursday, Sept. 14.


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