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Dalton Man Arraigned in Political Sign Arson

Staff ReportsiBerkshires
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A dangerousness hearing is being held for the defendant in the Holiday Brook Farm arson. 
 
Lonnie Durfee, 49, of Dalton was arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court on Tuesday on a charge of burning personal property.
 
Durfee was charged with setting fire on Friday evening to a political sign made up of nearly 20 plastic-covered hay bales that was near the roadway.  
 
The Berkshire district attorney's office requested the court hold Durfee as a danger to the community. Judge Paul Smyth scheduled a dangerousness hearing for Friday.
 
"This is a sad reflection of the vast polarization in our country and in the Berkshires. We believe Mr. Durfee destroyed personal property because he disagreed with the property owner's political views. Our community will not accept those types of actions under any circumstances," District Attorney Andrea Harrington said.
 
"We will hold Mr. Durfee accountable and I hope the community uses this incident as a rallying cry to reject fervent divisiveness and hate."
 
Durfee is accused of using gasoline and motor oil to set fire to hay bales displaying support for the Biden/Harris presidential campaign on Holiday Brook Farm in Dalton on Friday, Oct. 9. Dalton Police, State Police, and the Fire Marshal' Office determined someone had intentionally lit the fire and the investigation ultimately led Dalton Police to arrest Durfee on Saturday morning. 
 
The farm has since replaced the sign with one of similar size with a message of "Love, Unity, Respect."
 
Farm officials say their loss has been met with an outpouring of support from the community, including a GoFundMe campaign. All donations will be given to the local American Civil Liberties Union, they wrote in a post on Facebook. 
 
"What began as an oversized endorsement of our choice of candidates, has blossomed into an outpouring of support of incredible proportions," they wrote. "It's hard to express the depth of our appreciation for all the folks who care about our farm and want to contribute."

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Pittsfield 4th of July Parade Canceled Again

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield's famed Fourth of July Parade has fallen victim to the COVID-19 pandemic once more.
 
On Friday morning, Mayor Linda Tyer delivered "breaking news" that the parade will be canceled this year for the second time since 1977. It was also canceled last year due to the novel coronavirus.
 
"It's disappointing to have to put another pause on the Fourth of July parade, but I just don't think that we can safely hold it this year," Tyer told local radio station Live 95.9.
 
Though large outdoor gatherings of 250 people and parades will be permitted at 50 percent capacity beginning on May 29, Tyer said this does not help the parade because there is no way of determining the capacity and then limiting it to half. The parade regularly brings thousands of people to North Street and involves hundreds of participants and volunteers.
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