US flags displayed on the fence of a freeway overpass in honor of 13 American soldiers killed in an attack on Kabul airport in Afghanistan have been vandalized, Riverside police said.
The flags were placed on the Ivy Street flyover of the 91 Freeway in Riverside as a memorial to the soldiers killed. Three of the Marines killed in the attack have southern California connections, including counties Riverside and San Bernardino.
Resident Steve Johnson noticed the damaged flags and reported them to the police.
“That’s not okay,” said Johnson. “This is the United States of America, and the flag means something to us.”
He said at least one flag was torn in half.
“It is evident that the flags were deliberately damaged,” Riverside police said in a Facebook post.
The damaged flags, including a U.S. Marine Corps flag, have been removed and handed over to a Boy Scout troop for a proper retirement, police said. In the meantime, new flags have been placed on the flyover.
Monique Cisneros, the Riverside Police Department’s public information officer, is the mother of two military personnel. She said the vandalism was hurtful and disheartening.
“Nobody is allowed to destroy someone else’s property,” said Cisneros. “As this is a memorial, we honor the 13 who tragically lost their lives. and every mother who has a service member – it hits us deep in the pit of our stomach. “
Police asked anyone with information about the damaged flags to call the Property Crimes Unit at (951) 353-7955.