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Iowa Man Arrested for Vandalizing Pride Flag

Blazing Saddle surveillance video

An Iowa man was arrested after vandalizing a rainbow flag outside a gay bar.

The Des Moines Police Department arrested Jonathan Rosemark for criminal mischief after surveillance cameras caught a man apparently burning the flag outside the Blazing Saddle, according to KCCI in Des Moines. The incident happened shortly before 5 on Wednesday morning, with Rosemark attempting to light the flag on fire repeatedly while it still flew, then biting the flag and ultimately tearing it down.

The Blazing Saddle released surveillance video publicly on the East Village bar’s Facebook page in an effort to identify the vandal.

“The Blazing Saddle was the subject of vandalism. The rainbow American flag that we proudly fly by our front door was purposely torn down and set on fire after hours. The flag did not stay ablaze after the vandal left but was left on the sidewalk for passersby to see the next day,” read a message from owners.

“Luckily, events like this are few and far between. The days of bars on the windows and locking doors to keep customers safe inside are long past. The Blazing Saddle has been and still remains a safe haven for the LGBTQ+ community regardless of what the political and/or social climate might be outside of our doors. Minor things like this will not deter us from our continued support of our community on a daily basis.”

The charge against Rosemark is a serious misdemeanor hate crime under Iowa law.

The incident was one of several this year where vandals burned rainbow flags.

In October, a flag from the May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society of Syracuse in New York was destroyed, its burned remains left on church grounds.

In September, a rainbow flag flying outside a Kansas home was torched days ahead of Wichita Pride.

In June, a flag was burned outside the Alibi Lounge, New York City's only Black-owned LGBTQ club. Tyresse Singleton was arrested for that crime, according to Gay City News. That incident came just six weeks after a similar act of vandalism outside the same club.

In May, a flag was similarly set on fire outside the LGBTQ shop Same Gender Love in Baltimore.

And just this week, another Iowa man was convicted in court for burning a Pride flag that had been displayed at the Ames United Church of Christ. Adolfo Martinez was convicted of a hate crime for the June 11 incident.

Tags: Crime, Iowa

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