In Hingham, Massachusetts, police have arrested and charged a man who threatened to shoot down and burn a Pride flag at a local shopping plaza.
Gage Scammell of nearby Weymouth, Massachusetts was arraigned at Hingham District Court and charged with interference with civil rights, use or presence of deadly weapons, and threatening to commit a crime, police said in a statement.
Scammell, 29, left an alarming message on the Derby Street Shoppes management’s voicemail this week, claiming he would shoot down the Pride flag displayed at the plaza’s shops with a rifle and then burn it if it wasn’t removed. Scammel gave management three days to comply with his request before he would carry out the threat.
Management called Hingham police immediately, and an investigation ensued. Scammell was identified as the caller and arrested soon after.
In addition to threatening the LGBTQ+ community, police say Scammel made “disparaging statements regarding the Jewish faith.”
“The Hingham Police Department supports and stands with our LGBTQ+ and Jewish communities and we will not tolerate any threats or discrimination against them,” Hingham Police Chief David Jones said in a statement about the incident. “The men and women of this agency will vigorously investigate threats against any member of our community.”
The chief encouraged anyone with additional information about Scammell or concerns about the incident to contact the department’s civil rights officer, Lt. John Marquardt at [email protected].
“I want to reiterate that any attacks against the LGBTQ+ or Jewish communities, or any other marginalized group, will be dealt with swiftly and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Jones added. “Hingham is a welcoming and accepting community and we will continue to work with our local stakeholders to ensure that our town is safe and inclusive for everyone.”
Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey (D) condemned the threatened violence and praised Hingham police for apprehending Gage before he could do harm.
“We will not tolerate hate in Massachusetts,” Healey told LGBTQ Nation. “We stand with the LGBTQ+ and Jewish communities in Hingham, and I’m grateful for the swift work of law enforcement to hold this individual accountable.”
Dan Miller-Dempsey of the local advocacy group Hingham Pride Project told LGBTQ Nation, “We’re disappointed to know that there are some who are so affected by the very existence of the LGBTQ+ community, that they would resort to threatening violence. We’re thankful and proud that the Hingham Pride Project has succeeded in creating an environment in Hingham that is overwhelmingly supportive of our community. We thank the Hingham Police Department and Chief David Jones for their unwavering support of the LGBTQ+ community.”
Scammel’s threat to vandalize the Pride flag comes in the midst of a campaign by the group to distribute free flags to Hingham residents for display this June.
“Our dream is for a sea of Pride flags to be displayed over the month of June in Hingham” reads an announcement from the group, “and for everyone who wants to show their support to be able to do so, at no cost to them.”
Miller-Dempsey estimates over 4,000 Pride flags flew in the small town of 20,000 last June.