SARATOGA SPRINGS (ABC4 News) – As Pride Week kicked off, more than 1,400 residents throughout the Wasatch Front displayed rainbow flags on their homes to show support and solidarity with the LGBTQ community. But this past week, several Saratoga Springs neighbors said they were targets of theft.
Desarae Wright is one of those residents. Her family put up their flag Saturday and by Monday morning, it was gone.
“It was someone on a motorcycle. They had a backpack. They tore the flag off, put it in there, and then threw the pole in our neighbor’s yard. That tells me that they were targeting us and it was their intention to go out looking for these flags,” she said.
Wright said her neighbor witnessed the motorcyclist hit her home around 11:45 p.m. Sunday night, but was unable to provide a detailed description of the suspect. All she has is surveillance footage from a neighbor that provides a distant view of the motorcyclist.
She said other residents in her area were also hit this past week, but with limited information, Saratoga Springs police said they will follow-up on some leads and find witnesses.
“We understand the sensitivity that a Pride flag was stolen from someone’s property, but don’t have any evidence that there was any form of a hate crime. As such, police are continuing to investigate the situation,” said David Johnson, spokesperson for Saratoga Springs Police Department.
Wright said what bothers her the most is not the property loss, but the motive behind the act.
“It’s just ironic that this flag that symbolizes love and acceptance to me…was something so offensive to someone else that they would break the law to steal my property,” she said.
She shared that the Pride flag has personal meaning to her because she has family members and friends who are part of the LGBTQ community. By displaying the flag on her home, she hopes the symbolism might impact someone who is struggling with their sexual identity.
“It’s OK to be you. It’s safe. We’re not going to let them win, no matter how many times this happens. You have other people that are out there supporting you, whether you know us or not. You have a community. If you haven’t found your tribe yet, keep looking and don’t give up,” said Wright.
Additionally, she said she wants to raise her children in an environment where they can be proud of who they are.
“In raising my three kids and the one I have on the way, I want them to know that if they identify as LGBTQ one day…that it won’t be an issue and they can come to me or their dad,” said Wright.
Wright said she already has another Pride flag ordered and will be putting up a new one to replace the one that was stolen. She hopes the person who took it will be open to dialogue.
“I hope that person could meet someone from the LGBTQ community themselves. I think that until you have someone you love who is LGBTQ…that you might not understand. There’s that saying, ‘Be careful who you hate, it could be someone you love,'” she said.
Lucas Horns, founder of Project Rainbow told ABC4 News:
“Discrimination against LGBTQ people is nothing new. The real news here is that there are more than 1,400 residents across the Wasatch Front displaying their love and support for LGBTQ people this year through Project Rainbow. A handful of flags getting stolen isn’t going to deplete our pride and certainly won’t deplete our love for each other.”