ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A troubling sign displayed on Route 9 in eastern New York Sunday provoked outrage and raised questions about the limitations of free speech.
“They were ignorant,” retired Troy Police Cpt. John Cooney said. “They put the sign on the overpass, but it’s insignificant. The police are resilient.”
A banner hung on the Shaker Road overpass above Route 9 has the community asking for answers.
“I hope they find whoever did this and punish them accordingly,” Johnathan Falk said.
The banner read “More Dead Cops.” It was removed shortly after police received a call around 5:10 p.m. Sunday.
Police do not know how long the banner was up, but it was visible long enough to provoke outrage.
“It feels that it’s not safe nowadays, and it shouldn’t be like that,” Peggy Walford said.
“It’s absolute horror,” Falk said. “We’re talking about people who put their lives on the line every day for strangers for not a lot of money, and they’re getting so disrespected. It’s terrible.”
Cooney said the legality of the incident is murky at best.
“Legality on this issue is an extremely difficult issue to ponder,” he said. “There could be trespass issues; there could be unlawful use of property type of issues with state and whoever has ownership and responsibility for the bridge. But the argument could be made that free speech and we get to do what we want.”
Cooney said that similar incidents are largely insignificant to police.
“It’s a waste of their time, and to be frank, to worry about the statement made on the banner today would be a waste of our time,” he said. “We will continue to do our job and serve the citizens as we always have.”
Police said they are “looking into the matter.”This story was originally posted by WTEN, a Nexstar contributing station.