Groups want to march and fly new flag over Bristol

Residents and VFW are asking the Town Council to fly a ‘first-responder’ flag for the month of July

By Scott Pickering
Posted 6/25/20

The Bristol Town Council will hear a proposal from a group of citizens who want to march through town on a path identical to a Black Lives Matter march several weeks ago and raise a flag over …

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Groups want to march and fly new flag over Bristol

Residents and VFW are asking the Town Council to fly a ‘first-responder’ flag for the month of July

Posted

The Bristol Town Council will hear a proposal from a group of citizens who want to march through town on a path identical to a Black Lives Matter march several weeks ago and raise a flag over Independence Park that honors first-responders in Bristol and beyond.

The proposal was made public Wednesday afternoon by a group calling themselves “Bristol County Concerned Citizens,” with retired Army general Mike Byrnes as one of two co-chairmen. They say the group is not aligned with any particular party and includes Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Independents.

They plan to march single-file — wearing masks and staying socially distant — along the Hope Street sidewalk, starting at Chestnut Street, to Independence Park along Thames Street, beginning at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 3. They then would like permission from the Bristol Town Council to raise a flag over the park in honor of all first-responders (police, fire and EMTs) for the remainder of the month of July.

The group is encouraging others to join them and bring their own American flags or other flags to honor first-responders.

The action comes within weeks of two other high-profile events in Bristol. First was the Black Lives Matter march and rally that drew an estimated 1,000 people to a powerful and peaceful rally at Independence Park. Organized by a black woman who is a Mt. Hope High School graduate, that rally observed a moment of silence of nearly 9 minutes in remembrance of George Floyd, a black man killed by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minn.

Next was unanimous approval by the Bristol Town Council to fly a Black Lives Matter flag above Bristol Town Hall. A couple dozen residents, led by a mixed-race couple raising children in Bristol, urged the council to approve the flag as a sign of unity and support for African Americans in Bristol.

This new request before the council was submitted by Mr. Byrnes of the ‘Concerned Citizens’ group and Karl Antonevich, commander of the Bristol VFW Post 237. In their request to the council, they wrote: “We believe that current events call for a proper tribute to the professional first responders who dedicate themselves every day to serve the public and protect and secure our safety, often at great personal risk to their own lives. Too often the men and women of our police, fire and emergency rescue teams are unappreciated and at times wrongly faulted for exercising the civic duties called for by their profession. This event would reaffirm our support.

“BCCC and the Veterans of Foreign Wars believe in the rule of law, traditional American family values and common sense. We want to pay special tribute to those who sacrifice their own safety for that of the greater common good. We believe this special, one-time event will send a clear message that first responders are valued, respected, loved and appreciated by the citizens of Bristol County.

Who are ‘Bristol County Concerned Citizens’?

According to a flyer left at the Bristol Phoenix office, the group calling itself “Bristol County Concerned Citizens” consists of Mike Byrnes and Tony Rego (co-chairmen), Nick Puniello (treasurer), Peter Hewett (membership) and Will Grapentine (communications). They released the following statement of their beliefs:

Traditional values, common sense solutions

OUR CONCERN: We oppose the rise of a philosophy that undermines traditional American values and will increase social and economic burdens on those who can least afford it.

WHO WE ARE: Our group is aligned with no particular political party. Members include Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Independents. We are a group of concerned citizens seeking to promote traditional local and American values. We believe in common sense values and solutions that support traditional American and local values.

OUR MISSION/PURPOSE. To identify recruit and support political candidates at local levels who share our concern for preserving traditional local and American values.

  • Traditional family values as the foundation of a flourishing civil society;
  • The sanctity of life;
  • Educational choices to include charter, private and faith-based schools;
  • A welcoming community that promotes legal immigration, cultural assimilation, strong borders and voter ID;
  • Firm discipline and accountability to ensure a positive learning environment in our schools;
  • Strong economic growth with limited taxes;
  • Reasonable environmental policies that take into effect realistic impact and cost;
  • Freedom of speech, religion, assembly and the right to keep and bear arms.
  • We believe it is time for We the People to stand up and protect our communities and our traditional American values.

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Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.