THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Arlington police investigate threats over pledge vote

By Brock Parker
Globe Correspondent / July 1, 2010

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Arlington police are investigating threatening messages sent to School Committee members yesterday in response to a controversy surrounding reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in school.

Police Captain Robert Bongiorno would not specify which committee members received the messages, but he said some were anti-Semitic.

“The messages are offensive and hateful and potentially criminal,’’ Bongiorno said.

Police launched the investigation as school officials blasted what they said were incorrect reports by Fox News that the School Committee had banned the pledge in Arlington schools.

“It is unfortunate that the national media has chosen to distort this very serious debate in a manner which so badly misinforms the public,’’ committee chairman Joseph Curro said in a press release yesterday. “Recent reports have done little to present the facts . . . and have been seized upon by many people throughout the country to target our dedicated school leaders with unwarranted hate mail and threats.’’

As the Globe reported yesterday, controversy about reciting the pledge in Arlington schools began last week when Arlington High School senior Sean Harrington requested that the pledge be led each day at school. The Pledge of Allegiance has not been said at the high school for years, and the School Committee voted 3-to-3 on a motion that would have required a daily, but voluntary, recitation of the pledge to be led over the intercom. Because of the tie vote, the motion failed.

School Committee members said they would look into enacting a pledge policy this summer, and on Tuesday, Arlington High principal Charles Skidmore told the Globe he would lead the pledge in the school’s auditorium every morning for students who wished to say it. Harrington said he still wants the pledge broadcast into each classroom.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Curro said that since incorrect reports by Fox News that Arlington had banned the pledge, committee members have been receiving messages from “all over the country.’’

Curro said a couple of the messages sent to committee members included indirect threats and one said the members should go to North Korea, where their throats would be slit.

“It sure felt threatening to me,’’ Curro said.

Brock Parker can be reached at brock.globe@gmail.com.

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