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Vandal targets historic New Orleans home of gay rights activist

Sunday, August 4, 2013
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NEW ORLEANS — A gay activist says somebody tore a rainbow gay pride flag from his second-floor balcony and spray-painted the word “fags” on the house he and his partner share.

Police said they and the FBI are investigating it as a hate crime.

Times-Picayune
John Hill, in front of his home where a vadal spray-painted the word “fags.”

A neighbor’s surveillance camera captured video of the crime early Saturday, but it doesn’t show the vandal’s face.

John Hill, 68, is a spokesman for Louisiana Equality Forum, an organization supporting equal rights activist for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. He also served as past president for the group.

He said he found it frightening because the perpetrator had clearly planned what to do and wasn’t in any rush.

Police put the video on YouTube and are asking the public to help identify the man. They offered a $2,500 reward.

The video, filmed from a neighboring gallery, shows a van parking directly in front of Hill’s townhouse in historic Julia Row. A man emerges, walks to the rear of the van and pulls down a ladder, which he uses to rip the gay pride flag from Hill’s second-story balcony.

The man then sprays the anti-gay slur on a shutter before getting back in the van and driving away.

Hill said the flag was one that he and his partner, John Weimer Jr., brought to a rally celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings about gay marriage. It was waving behind them in an Associated Press photograph of the partners kissing during the rally.

“We’d come home from that rally and hung it from our balcony, We said, ‘Let’s just hang it there until we get married,’” Hill said.

He said he thinks he may have been targeted either because of the flag or because he wrote a newspaper opinion piece saying Louisiana is still hostile toward gays. He was later interviewed on television about it.

Watch a report from WVUE-TV:

The Times-Picayune has the actual surveillance video:

Hill says he won’t be intimindated by the incident, and has replaced the stolen rainbow pride flag with not one, but two rainbow pride flags.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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