Police in Michigan have launched an investigation after a camera recorded a man setting a Pride flag display on fire last Tuesday.
In the early morning of June 28, Lansing Police Department officers say a man wearing a baseball cap poured the flags with a liquid and then set the display aflame, according to local TV station WILX.
In video of the incident, the man pulls out a container, douses the display with what’s in the container, and sets it alight with a lighter. The fire consumes the flag and almost catches the man.
Witnesses told the station that they saw a man dressed in all black flee the area after the fire began.
“The Lansing Police Department strives for every citizen to feel safe in the city of Lansing,” Lansing Police Department Chief Ellery Sosebee said. “Our goal is to assure the City of Lansing is a safe place to live work and visit for everyone, including the LGBTQ+ community. The Lansing Police Department will not tolerate any act of hate and intimidation and will seek the appropriate prosecution for any of these crimes.”
It's the sixth time the Pride display has been vandalized, according to LGBTQ Nation.
Community members have spoken out against the fire and the thefts.
“We bounce back and say no. We’re going to stand our ground. We’re going to stay here, we’re going to show we are a part of this community and were not going anywhere,” a local resident told WLNS.
Community organizer and candidate for Lansing City Council Ryan Kost said, “I don’t cower and I’m not going to cower just because someone has hateful thoughts. I always believed someone is completely entitled to their opinion and that’s fine but where it crosses the line is when you start burning the flags or cutting them down with a saw or stealing them.”
Kost has filed a criminal complaint about the vandalism.