Teens arrested for Memorial Day flag theft and burning
Two teenagers have been arrested on suspicion of stealing dozens of U.S. flags from two cemeteries on Memorial Day and burning them behind one of the graveyards.
Grass Valley police on Monday arrested a 15-year-old girl on charges of arson, petty theft and vandalism. A 16-year-old boy was cited on charges of vandalism and petty theft and released to family.
“We were just very saddened somebody would be so disrespectful to someone else’s property,” said Kay Baker, co-owner of Hooper and Weaver Mortuary. “I am also personally insulted someone would burn a flag.”
Hooper and Weaver owns New Elm Ridge Cemetery and has a contract with Odd Fellows Cemetery, both on Kidder Avenue. Both cemetaries were hit by the vandals on Memorial Day.
On May 31, as most people were waking up on the holiday, employees at the cemeteries discovered that 14 small flags, five 9-feet-by-5-feet flags, 14 potted flower arrangements and one 16-foot flag pole had been stolen.
Grass Valley police found burnt remnants of the stolen flags behind the Odd Fellows Cemetery. A lead in the case came after a story about the flag burning was published in The Union on June 1.
One of the juveniles suspected in the arson read the story and bragged about it to friends, said Jerod Johnson of the Grass Valley Police Department. Another person, who Johnson did not identify, called police and reported overhearing the conversation.
Johnson said the suspects have not confessed to the crimes but the evidence suggests they are responsible.
Baker said that in the days following the flag burnings, Hooper and Weaver was inundated with phone calls from residents expressing anger over what happened and offering help to replace the flags.
“(The vandalism) really offended the community,” Baker said.
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Editor’s note: The following is the 2021 Valedictorian Address for Ghidotti High School, given by graduate Amina Federspiel-Otelea.