Damage to coffee shop’s flag is condemned

The city’s Human Rights Commission is condemning the possible vandalism of an American flag at Battle Grounds Coffee earlier this month.

The new Pleasant Street cafe is owned and operated by former Navy SEAL Salvatore DeFranco and his wife, Dana. The couple said they were disheartened to see an American flag that they proudly fly in front of their shop had fallen to the ground after their flagpole was snapped from its bracket on Aug. 6.

The Newburyport Human Rights Commission wrote in a letter to The Daily News editor on Friday that seeing the flag on the ground is a painful image for most, especially veterans who have pledged their lives to defend it.

“Knowing this might have been a deliberate act deepens the wound,” the letter states. “The HRC condemns this and all similar forms of vandalism and destruction of property.”

The letter goes on to state that the Human Rights Commission views community as a place where ideas can be shared and opposing viewpoints can be expressed civilly, regardless of a person’s political persuasion, race or religion.

“There have been too many instances in our city in recent years of people using bigoted language or defacing public property to convey hateful messages,” the letter states. “We must stand together and reaffirm that these kinds of actions will not be tolerated in our city and will not define us as a community.”

It remains unclear whether the act was malicious. According to City Marshal Mark Murray, police have been investigating but are unsure whether the flag was targeted or accidentally knocked down.

Salvatore DeFranco has said he’s skeptical the flagpole was broken by accident, since it appeared to have been worked loose from the bracket.

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