Danbury church leader calls rainbow flag theft 'hate crime' - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Danbury church leader calls rainbow flag theft 'hate crime'

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A rainbow flag at a church in Danbury was destroyed or stolen for the third time in a year. (WFSB) A rainbow flag at a church in Danbury was destroyed or stolen for the third time in a year. (WFSB)
DANBURY, CT (WFSB) -

A rainbow flag at a church in Danbury was destroyed or stolen for the third time in a year.

Police are looking into these incidents at the Unitarian Universalist Church and trying to determine if they were hate crimes or vandalism.

A plastic pole at the Unitarian Universalist Church was snapped over the Memorial Day weekend and the flag is nowhere in sight.

“It was stolen and the flag staff it was on was also busted up,” Walt Sizemore, who is the president of the Board of Trustees at the Unitarian Universalist Church, said.

Sizemore said he believes these acts were no mistake and are in fact hate crimes. The first incident involved the flag being burned.

“Burning, in particular, is a very emotional crime,” Sizemore said.

The rainbow flag stands as a symbol of inclusion. The flag has been at the Unitarian Universalist Church for the last 10 years. But only in the last year, church officials hung the rainbow flag at the front.

Two months later it happened again. After it was stolen last weekend, church officials said they are hoping police will see it through their eyes and treat this as a hate crime.

“I think the police view it more as vandalism than anything else,” Sizemore said. “When I go through the Connecticut statues, I see it as a third class hate crime, where it's directed at a specific group of people.”

Because no hateful messages or threats were attached, police haven't deemed this a hate crime. But in the meantime, love has poured into the church. More than 20 rainbow flags have been donated by other churches in the area, even those that don't adopt the same values.

“We've reached out to other groups in the gay community and said we're here,” Sizemore said. “This doesn't really bother us and it shouldn't bother you.”  

Anyone with information should call the Danbury Police Department at 203- 797-4614. In the meantime, the church is looking to get surveillance equipment to catch the suspect in the act.

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