Accident mars rally for Freeport Flag Ladies

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FREEPORT — A rally for the Freeport Flag Ladies on Tuesday morning turned somber after a pedestrian was hit by a car and injured.

Almost 150 people stood on Main Street Dec. 22 in support of the Flag Ladies, who have gathered at the corner of Main and School streets to wave American flags every Tuesday morning since 9/11. The crowd was there to stand up for the women, who claim they’ve been harassed by another resident.

Also there in support of the Flag Ladies was 56-year-old Rhoda O’Leary, of Norway, who was struck by a car while walking in a crosswalk at 8:42 a.m. Freeport Police Chief Gerald Schofield on Tuesday afternoon said O’Leary was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland with non-life-threatening injuries.

According to the Bangor Daily News, the Flag Ladies – JoAnn Miller, Carmen Footer and Elaine Greene – claim they’ve been harassed by Liza Moore.  For three weeks Moore stood on the same street corner at the same time as the Flag Ladies, holding signs expressing support for refugees.

Moore’s former husband, James M. Roux, died on 9/11 aboard one of the hijacked airliners. The flag ladies, according to the newspaper, have a protection of harassment order against Moore’s son, James Roux III, who disturbed a 9/11 ceremony this year while the Flag Ladies were speaking. Charges against Roux, who was handcuffed and taken away by police, were later dropped.

Moore, a computer teacher at Mast Landing School, was not at Tuesday’s rally, but several Freeport High School students were there to support her.

“We wanted to come out and support Liza,” Lily Johnston said. “We didn’t come out to be in opposition to the Flag Ladies.”

The students had signs of support both for Moore and for refugees. They said after speaking with the Flag Ladies that they believe both sides ultimately want the same thing.

“We want everyone, the Flag Ladies and us, to have freedom of speech,” Maddie Squibb said.

Organizations like the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association and the Patriot Riders, and individuals including Maine first lady Ann LePage were at the rally to support the Flag Ladies.

“When we heard they were getting harassed, we didn’t like that,” Steve Shephard, of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, said. “They shouldn’t be harassed for what they believe in.”

LePage, who said she comes to Freeport to stand with the flag ladies once a month, said her presence at the rally was “not at all” political.

“These are just people who love this country,” she said. “It’s anything but political.”

O’Leary was crossing School Street when she was struck by a black, 2007 GMC Yukon driven by Yaselis Toohey, 41, of Portland, who was turning from Main Street, according to Schofield. One of the Flag Ladies ran to the victim, who remained conscious, and stayed by her side until help arrived. EMTs took her away by ambulance as the Flag Ladies and others cried, visibly upset.

The situation escalated as emergency responders were helping O’Leary, when a bystander walked up to the students supporting Moore and began yelling at them.

He told them the accident was their fault, and if they hadn’t been there it wouldn’t have happened. A member of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association came to the defense of the students, and the bystander was led away.

The rally ended shortly after the injured pedestrian was removed.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

A rally in support of the Freeport Flag Ladies on Dec. 22 drew a crowd of almost 150 people, who lined both sides of Main Street in Freeport.

A pedestrian was struck by a car at the intersection of Main and School streets in Freeport on Dec. 22 at a rally in support of the Freeport Flag Ladies.

A group of Freeport High School students were among a small group of people who supported Liza Moore at a rally for the Freeport Flag Ladies Dec. 22. The Flag Ladies claim Moore has been harassing them.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.