New Rochelle to develop 'flag policies' after issues over attempting to remove the Israeli flag

At Tuesday's Committee of the Whole meeting, it was revealed that there were informal discussions among city leadership to remove the Israeli flag that was not initially made public.

Jonathan Gordon

Feb 14, 2024, 1:12 AM

Updated 61 days ago

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The New Rochelle City Council has agreed to come up with a clear set of policies for raising and removing non-city, state or American flags that fly on city property.
At Tuesday's Committee of the Whole meeting, it was revealed that there were informal discussions among city leadership to remove the Israeli flag that was not initially made public. The discussion took place over email between the seven members of the board in which "five were in a consensus to remove the Israeli flag," according to City Council member Albert Tarantino.
"There was no discussion by the council in a public forum which creates the issue about transparency, open meeting law, being inclusive of everybody on the council, and everybody in the community," he said.
Multiple council members said they previously received some complaints from residents about the flag. The flag first went up last October in the days following the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war also without a vote and under then-Mayor Noam Bramson. Current Mayor Yadira Ramos-Herbert was a member of the City Council at that time.
She told News 12 that she wants to move forward with a process that directly outlines the city's procedures while treating all members of the community with respect.
"After having a little bit of an informal precedent, we wanted to now codify it. Just codify our practices and make it is as neutral as possible, so that we don't do anything to hurt the wonderful members of our city," New Rochelle Mayor Yadira Ramos-Herbert said.
The city charter does not directly address how the city should handle raising and removing non-local, state or American flags.
On Jan. 25, Ramos-Herbert spoke at a rally in support of Israel and the city's Jewish community.
"So raise the flag high, be proud to raise the flag high, raise them all. Let's show our kids, let's show our kids who we are, how we support each other, and how we come together," she said.
That came after a pair of Jewish-owned businesses were tagged with antisemitic graffiti at the Golden Horseshoe Shopping Center in New Rochelle along the Scarsdale border. Local police were probing the case as a possible hate crime.
Residents who both support and oppose the flag flying in front of City Hall spoke at Tuesday night's public session.
"The presence of the Israeli flag at City Hall here in New Rochelle makes me feel unsafe," one man said.
"Knowing that the flag was flying over City Hall gave us a lot of comfort," another woman added.
The council said it hopes to have a flag policy proposal to vote on in the coming weeks.
The plan is to keep the Israeli flag where it is until the end of the month when it is scheduled to be replaced for Black History Month.


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