A West Virginia church’s LGBTQ Pride flag has been stolen multiple times this year, part of a spate of thefts and vandalism involving rainbow flags around the nation.
The First Presbyterian Church in Morgantown has displayed the flag on its marquee for years, but flags have been stolen three or four times in 2019, with the most recent incident happening about two weeks ago, TV station WHSV of Harrisonburg, Va., reports.
After that theft, the church posted a message on its marquee saying it had responded by making a donation to PFLAG. The pastor and several members made contributions. The congregation is now considering painting a rainbow flag on a structure so it can’t be stolen, Mavis Grant-Lilley, chair of the church’s LGBTQ Task Force, told the station.
Just last week, a man was arrested for burning a rainbow flag outside the Blazing Saddle, a gay bar in Des Moines. Also in Iowa last week, a man was convicted of a hate crime for taking a Pride flag from the United Church of Christ in Ames and burning it in the street in June.
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.
“It’s the intention to frighten and scare us,” Wichita resident Barry Carroll told NBC News.
In June, a flag was burned outside the Alibi Lounge, New York City's only Black-owned LGBTQ club. 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.