News (USA)

Across the U.S., Pride symbols are being attacked in outbreak of vandalism

A tattered rainbow flag
Photo: Shutterstock

On Tuesday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) released a new report that reveals hate crimes based on sexual orientation in the state rose nearly 30% in 2022. 

In March, the FBI published statistics that showed a 70% increase in reported hate crimes involving a sexual orientation bias in the previous year.

Those numbers are born out in 2023 by a rash of vandalism directed at Pride displays across the country in June, amid an onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in red states and coordinated attacks on the community by far-right organizations.

From New York to California, symbols representing LGBTQ+ identity are being defaced and destroyed.

In Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles over the weekend, two lifeguard towers at Ginger Rogers Beach painted in Progress flag colors were defaced just 48 hours after they were unveiled by Los Angeles County officials and East Hollywood artist Katherine Bingley, who was out Monday morning repairing the damage.

Vandals broke windows and attempted to scratch a swastika on one structure.

In New Jersey, vandals ripped the word “Pride” out of four rainbow banners in Harrison Township in the southern part of the state last weekend. The town’s mayor said he received calls from outraged residents and condemned the act.

He was joined by the county prosecutor’s office asking for the public’s help identifying the perpetrators, while the town’s police chief filed a hate crime report.

Following the Baltimore Pride parade on Saturday, vandals defaced a sign marking the entrance to the city’s Homeland neighborhood by painting over the “e” to read “Homoland.” Homeowner association member Michael Burns called the vandalism hateful.

“I suspect the vandal was reacting to our flags,” Burns told the Baltimore Banner, referring to Pride flags displayed on his house and around the gay-friendly neighborhood. “He or she will be disappointed to see them again next year.”

In Santa Fe last weekend, a rainbow flag hung on the city’s Plaza gazebo was found defaced with a chalk drawing of a cross and the phrase “Jesus saves,” following the city’s Pride parade and festival.

Calling it a “slap in the face,” Mayor Alan Webber (D) condemned the graffiti.

“Pride was a joyful celebration of community and justice for all, and it was a celebration that showed Santa Fe at our best,” Webber said in a statement. “In contrast, this is a cowardly act of bias and bigotry that all of us should condemn.”

In New York, the Stonewall National Monument has been vandalized at least four times this month, park volunteers report. Pride flags displayed in Christopher Park across the street from the Stonewall Inn were ripped down and defaced in four separate incidents on June 6, 9, 16, and 18.

Police arrived to find 33 Pride flags torn down in the latest incident a week ago Sunday.

“We have so much hatred and anger in the air right now,” one volunteer told Fox 5 New York. “We need to reverse that and replace it with love, compassion, and acceptance.”

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