An American Legion post in Park Slope has been ordered to remove a bench — with the US flag painted on it — from outside its veterans club.
The city’s Department of Transportation issued a “notice of encroachment/order” last week to the American Legion Sixth Memorial Post No. 1833 on 5th Avenue near 6th Street regarding the patriotic bench built around the base of a tree outside of the establishment.
The notice, obtained by The Post, says that the “unauthorized bench” is “encroaching on city sidewalk” and orders the legion to remove within 30 days or face a possible fine.
The local veteran’s group wrote on its Facebook page that the DOT “received a complaint” about the bench, which has been up for about two months.
The bench was built for “anyone to sit; an elder person needing a rest, school kids eating their lunch, veteran sitting there enjoying the weather, small children and their parent, and alike,” Post 1833 wrote on its Facebook.
“It has been a conversation piece; people stopping to admire it, take photos and posted on social media,” the post read. “The DOT notified the American Legion the [sic] they received a complaint about the bench and needs to be removed. Help us ‘Save Our Bench.’ ”
The Department of Transportation did not respond to a request for comment by The Post.
Salvador Oliva, a Sergeant at Arms for the American Legion post, said he feels the veterans group is being “singled out” because the bench is adorned with the US flag.
“There are other businesses on Fifth Avenue that have a bench on the sidewalk. I don’t see anyone bothering them,” Oliva said Tuesday. “I think it’s because of the flag.”
Mariana Guzman, 46, who has operated the American Legion’s 1833 post for the past 15 years, arranging the booking of parties and organizing events there, called the situation “hurtful.
“It’s an American flag. We live in America. We want to know why they want us to take it down. We don’t get it,” Guzman said.
“We don’t want to offend anyone with the flag. We feel like we offended someone…We support the veterans. We do parties for them. We try to help the families.
“We don’t want no problems,” she added.
But the artist behind the flag painting and builder of the bench, identified only as Joe – the commander of the Sons of the American Legion chapter at the Park Slope post – said he plans to fight to keep his bench.
“Nothing is obstructed,” Joe told The Post. “We’re going to ask for support.”
He added: “We were told there was a complaint lodged against us by one person. I spoke to the DOT and they said once we have a complaint we have to have the bench removed.”
Joe said ever since he constructed the bench, it has received rave reviews from passersby.
“I wanted to put something out front like a conversation piece to give the American Legion some exposure,” he said.
Social-media users who saw the legion’s Saturday Facebook post wrote that they didn’t want the club to back down to the city.
“Keep the bench! Let’s stand up to these jerks,” Facebook user Patricia Mullen wrote.
A. Lee Russell Jr. added: “This country is headed to hell…no tolerance for anything, sensitive to everything, impatient to no end! Where’s our appreciation for art and community! Where do I sign or write to re: keeping this wonderful bench?”
Greg Costantini wrote, “Don’t move the bench f–k them leave our flag alone or get the f–k out.”
Other commenters blamed Mayor de Blasio, whose former Park Slope home is roughly a half-mile away from Post 1833.
“I’m sure deblasio has something to do with the removal. There should be benches like this all over the USA,” Lisa Vennera-Valentin wrote.
The legion post is one of about 14,000 across the country.
The American Legion, established in 1919, is the largest wartime veterans organization, with about 2.4 million members, according to the non-profit organization.
Additional reporting by Danielle Furfaro
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