Still no arrests in Paducah flag burning case - some say it was a hate crime
By: Erica Byfield
PADUCAH, Ky. - Police say someone burned one flag and stole another at Paducah's Martin Luther King Junior memorial site. City workers found the charred remains of an African American flag Tuesday morning. The American flag taken from the site remains missing.
Police believe the crime happened sometime this weekend; they have no leads and say they need your help to find the person who did it.
This is not the first time sometime like this happened. "Somebody stole the flag one time and then another time somebody actually ran up on the... and knocked the monument down" as the president of the local chapter the NAACP J.W. Cleary's watched and tried to mediate Paducah's race relations for years. "It hurts but we know that thus type of situation is going to happen." He added just when you think everything's going alright someone burns a symbol of African American history.
The flag's roots date back to the early 1900's following the end of slavery. Marcus Garvey wanted it to fly as a promise for a better life for blacks in Africa. "It's very sad that the fact in 2007 that it still exists" said Cleary.That "it" is racism. Cleary said he suspects this latest act of vandalism has something to do with Don Imus's recent comments "I really think it was a trickle down effect."
Some people in Paducah agree. "People that do things like that they are not even worth paying attention to, they ought to be ignored" said Dennis Bristol. "I though these days was over with" said Quincy Jackson.
Tax dollars paid for this monument to Doctor Martin Luther King and for these flags to proudly wave over Paducah, so Cleary says this incident should strike a cord in not only blacks but also other races. "If they take it down again and burn it or whatever we're just going to put it back up there because this is something that's here to stay."
City workers replaced the flag Tuesday. Police tell me the last reported act of racial motivated vandalism in the city happened in 2004.