Middletown Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger, Phd, said that the ACLU’s objection to the ceremony at Middletown High School South last week honoring law enforcement, fire, first aid and military personnel is “absurd” and inconsistent with the organizations mission of protecting free speech.
The “Salute the USA” event was held on Friday prior to the Middletown South-Toms River North High School football game. It included over 100 uniformed personnel including two police officers who were shot last month during the arrest of the alleged terrorist who set off bombs in Seaside Park and New York City.
Middletown Deputy Police Chief Stephen Dollinger told The Asbury Park Press that the event was a response to professional athletes who have refused to stand during the National Anthem during the beginning ceremonies of sporting events. “It’s OK to stand up for social justice, inequality and reform,” Dollinger said. “It’s another thing to not stand up for the national anthem.”
The North Jersey Chapter of the ACLU, the Central Jersey Chapter of National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the Greater Long Brach NAACP said that the ceremony and Dollinger’s comment send “a frightening message.”