A peaceful demonstration turned into an upsetting sight in Freeport, Maine Tuesday morning, when a pedestrian taking part in a Freeport Flag Lady event was hit by an SUV.
The victim, 56-year-old Rhoda O’Leary of Norway, Maine, is in fair condition at Maine Medical Center. Police say the driver, Yaselis Toohey, 41, of Portland, turned onto School Street as O’Leary crossed the road. The crash remains under investigation.
“I want her to know that everybody is saying a prayer for her,” said Freeport Flag Lady Elaine Greene, who is the spokesperson for the group. The flag ladies have stood on the corner of Main and School Streets in Freeport every Tuesday morning since September 11, 2001, waving American flags as a show of support for 9/11 victims and veterans.
O’Leary was attending a pro-Freeport Flag Lady gathering Tuesday morning, organized in response to alleged harassment against the group.
According to Greene, the flag ladies have taken out a protection order against James Roux, the son of a 9/11 victim. She claims he has harassed them repeatedly, and he was arrested for disrupting their 9/11remembrance ceremony.
In recent weeks, his mother, Liza Moore, has shown up on the same Freeport block, holding pro-refugee signs. The flag ladies said they do not have a problem with his mother exercising her freedom of speech, but some people in the community have taken it that way.
“The protection order is against him, not her,” said Greene.
Several of Moore’s former students showed up to the rally Tuesday morning to show support for her.
“We’re here to show that you can be a patriot, and you can support refugees,” said Lindsay Cartmell.