The Fieldsboro, N.J., borough council has unanimously voted to ban commemorative yellow ribbons from public property, causing a huge uproar with residents who want to honor U.S. troops fighting in Iraq.
Mayor Edward “Buddy” Tyler supports the decision, reports the Trentonian newspaper.
“I’m shocked and outraged,” Diane Johnson told the paper. “I can’t believe the mayor would force me to take down ribbons put there in honor of American troops, fighting for our freedom in Iraq.”
According to the report, Johnson and her husband own a liquor store near an official welcome sign on the town’s main road. She placed one dinner-plate-sized ribbon on the sign and one on a nearby tree.
Said Johnson, “They were made of all-weather ribbon, and they looked really nice. They didn’t obstruct the sign in any way, and a lot of people with family members in the war came into the store to tell me how seeing the ribbons gave them a lift.”
Yesterday, Johnson got a mayoral directive delivered by a township maintenance man: “Take down the ribbons, or I’ll do it for you.”
“I didn’t want to get fined, so I took them down,” Johnson told the paper. “There are mothers in town who have sons over there. You think [the mayor would] be a little bit sensitive to them.”
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The Fieldsboro Borough Council approved the ban last week, but Tyler said it does not prohibit residents from placing memorials on their own property, reported the Associated Press. Four of the council members voted unanimously to force Johnson to remove the ribbons after the mayor reportedly received one complaint.
Tyler defended his decision.
“Where would you draw a line if you started allowing the use of public property to exhibit whatever cause anyone wanted?” Tyler told the paper. “Suppose someone wants to tie pink ribbons, or black flags, or a Confederate flag or a Nazi flag on public property?
“We certainly recommend that people should exhibit their support,” he said. “Just do it on your own property, not on borough property.”
Tyler, a Democrat, does not support the U.S. military action in Iraq, believing U.N. approval should have been secured before going in. While he insisted the decision was not partisan politics, he pointed out to the Trentonian that the Johnsons “are Republicans.”
All six members of the borough council are Democrats.
“The whole thing absolutely gets me in my gut,” Johnson said. “As far as I know, we’re not a Gestapo police state, but they’re sure acting like it.”