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Saddened by hateful display at Bridge of Flowers


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Visitors to the Bridge of Flowers may notice something new these days: identification tags worn by the cadre of local volunteers who tend the flower beds — known as the Blossom Brigade. The practice of wearing these IDs is the consequence of a disturbing incident that occurred on the Bridge recently, on a Sunday morning.

The assistant gardener, Elliston Bingham, was there, doing what he does on a regular basis — weeding and tending the plants — when a passerby, a woman, began accusing him of “stealing flowers.” Mr. Bingham, who is of Jamaican heritage, attempted to explain to her who he is but to no avail. Her verbal assault continued and became so heated that it attracted the attention of a man, who called 911.

Before the police could respond, yet another bystander intervened to vouch for Mr. Bingham. Hearing this, the man who had called 911 canceled the call and apologized to Mr. Bingham. The accuser, however, did not apologize but instead stalked off, continuing to hurl insults.

The Bridge of Flowers Committee deeply regrets that such a dedicated and respected member of this community was subjected to remarks calling into question his integrity and his right to be on the bridge, where he maintains the flowers for all to enjoy.

We are saddened, too, to realize that ignorant and hateful attitudes like this, stoked by cynical politicians on a national level, can rear their ugly heads even in communities like ours and in places of great beauty like the Bridge of Flowers. Although no explicit references to his race were made, the hostile attitude reflected in this woman’s unfounded suspicion towards a person of color — and her refusal to apologize even after being informed that he was an employee of the Bridge of Flowers — must be openly challenged and condemned.

If any good can come from situations like this, they remind us of the importance of standing up for what we value as a community and standing with people like Mr. Bingham, who embody those values. As the sign on the bridge — and in shop windows throughout the village — reminds us: “Bridges bring people together.”

Carol Angus

for The Bridge of Flowers Committee