Vandals were unable to spoil Turlock's Independence Day celebration – despite their best efforts.
A vandalized display of American flags was replaced just in time for Turlock's annual Fourth of July parade, thanks to some help from the community.
The flags were first installed by the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association on Sunday. They lasted less than 24 hours, as unknown persons bent about 10 of the flagpoles to the point of destruction overnight.
At first, it was unclear if the TDPOA would replace the flag display – the first Turlock has hosted in three years. In 2010, thieves stole a third of the TDPOA-installed flags, leading the association to temporarily abandon the display.
The poles were replaced with a stronger metal, donated by Turlock's Independent Electrical Supply, to stop vandals from striking again. IES's donation was one of several offered, as the community came together in support of the flag display after TurlockCityNews.com broke news of the vandalism on Tuesday.
“On behalf of our property and business owners and board we are quite grateful for the outpouring of support from the community and beyond in relationship to this senseless vandalism,” Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association coordinator Dana McGarry.
Even with the community support, it took a herculean effort to replace the flagpoles. Workers from the TDPOA were up until after 10 p.m. on Wednesday, working to install the new flags.
Despite the challenges, the scramble to repair the flag display was worth it, McGarry said.
“The downtown looks fantastic,” McGarry said. “We had a terrific crowd out (for the parade).”
The incident of vandalism drew attention from around the nation, as TurlockCityNews.com readers expressed dismay that an American flag display had been attacked – and the need to catch those responsible.
William Lundquist, a retired police officer from Minneapolis, e-mailed TurlockCityNews to suggest the city set up a trap for the vandals, who he characterized as angered by any display of patriotism.
“How I wish I were there to set up a nice patriotic display, just the thing to anger them to visit it for destruction or vandalism,” Lundquist wrote. “How nice it would be for it to be protected with video that would reveal their faces in your newspaper and on television.”
Another commentor on TurlockCityNews.com, using the name Jack Ryan, said the vandalism should serve as a wake-up call to the community. Turlockers should step up and fight back against bad seeds, he said.
“Where the heck is 'Turlock?'” Ryan asked. “Pansiefornia? How many times do you people have to get walked over before you realize it takes more than rainbows and pretty thoughts to stop a pack of punks from destroying public and private property.”
The vandalism even drew the attention of Jeff Durbin, a retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. who lives in the San Jose area. Durbin was so incensed by the incident, he offered to pay the $500 needed to replace the flagpoles – and to place a $1,000 bounty on the arrest and conviction of the “punks” responsible.
“I don't care who turns them in,” Durbin said. “They can turn themselves in.”
This isn't the first time Durbin has gotten involved with incidents of flag vandalism. He previously placed a bounty on criminals who vandalized a disabled veteran's flag in Las Vegas, and obtained a flag which flew over the U.S. Capitol for the veteran.
Durbin already has a penalty in mind for the vandals, if caught.
“After they are convicted I suggest they be required to serve as bearers of a military funeral where the flag is draped over a person,” Durbin wrote.