Blue Ribbons Spark Talk of Display Rules

0:00 When residents began to hang blue ribbons around town recently to show their opposition to antisemitism and support for Israeli hostages held in Gaza, […]

Published December 14, 2023 5:05 PM
2 min read


When residents began to hang blue ribbons around town recently to show their opposition to antisemitism and support for Israeli hostages held in Gaza, Mayor Josh Cohn and City officials thought it might be time for Rye to consider enacting a policy governing the hanging of ribbons and signs on City property.

Rye resident Kelly Goldstein began the blue-ribbon effort in early November, selling ribbons for $18 apiece and donating the proceeds to two organizations: The UJA and Community Synagogue, which has in turn donated the money to organizations in Israel. 

Goldstein said she has raised more than $6,000. Most of the ribbons were hung on private property, decorating trees and doorposts around town. Even local businesses got into the act, displaying ribbons in their windows and on their doors. But some ribbons were tied to utility poles in downtown Rye and on Boston Post Road. 

That’s where the City got involved. 

Cohn said City Manager Greg Usry “wondered if the project would have to go to the City Council, because of its parallel with the Soul Ryeders,” a nonprofit organization that sells pink ribbons each October to raise funds and awareness of the services it offers to cancer patients. 

“Soul Ryeders came to the Council before they hung ribbons on public property,” Cohn said. “We are just beginning to receive legal advice on it.” He added that Goldstein does not need a permit to hang ribbons, and while some of the ribbons have been removed from public places, “There was no City involvement in removing them.” 

But Cohn said the City needs to reevaluate the sign law to figure out what is constitutionally appropriate and what is not. “This is First Amendment stuff,” he said, adding that the council will continue to “poke into” the issue but he did not know when it would be on the agenda.

Goldstein is happy to comply with whatever the City wishes, but thinks the questioning of her effort at this time seems to “send a bad message. Anyone — Jewish or not — would wonder why you would do this now,” at the start of Hanukkah.

Cohn said the City Council discussed ribbons in executive session on Dec. 6 to begin to get legal advice on the matter. “We take our legal advice confidentially. Any action we take would have to be taken publicly,” Cohn said, adding “There is no antisemitism on the Council or in City Hall. The Council and I issued a statement on October 12 saying we resist antisemitism, terrorism, and hate, and we stand by it. These are troubling accusations.”

Councilman Josh Nathan agreed that there is not one Council member or one person in City Hall who is antisemitic. As for whether the sign laws need review, he said, “I don’t know if we need to change anything.” The City Council will study the matter, he expects. “I think we have to first learn what already exists, reflect on it, and understand the state of affairs and then learn from that whether or not we need to take action.”The City Council is scheduled to meet again on Dec. 20. 

– Photo By Alison Rodilosso

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