When Gilbert Baker first drafted the first rainbow flag in 1978, he didn’t know the six colors would be adopted by anyone interested in equality regardless of sex. Or color. Or nationality.
He also didn’t know it would become the target of haters. Equality. Human rights. Fair play and doing what’s right would become the target for haters.
Baker died in 2017 in New York City. Since then flag has become the epicenter of human rights and equality everywhere.
The haters haven’t stopped.
Flag Thief Arrested
Ronald Tyler Witt was arrested at his home in Sayville, New York for repeatedly stealing rainbow flags from a church.
The 21-year-old lives four blocks from the Sayville Congregational United Church of Christ. The church had seen numerous flags stolen over the last year. The one Witt took was just the latest. It was not his first.
Ray Bagnudo, the church’s pastor, is openly gay and displayed the flags on the church’s front lawn. They were intermixed with an American flag and a POW flag.
Those two were never stolen. Just the LGBTQ flags. The first flag theft happened in July 2018. After several other flags were taken, Bagnudo went to the police.
The police investigated and Witt was arrested. Six counts of petty larceny as a hate crime were filed. Will will faced the First District Count in Central Islip in Long Island.
“I’m happy law enforcement found who the thief is,” Bagnudo told reporters. “These types of activities are meant to send a message.”
When the second flag was stolen, the pastor placed a sign in front of the church which said: “You destroyed our welcoming Rainbow Flag — twice. This was an act of fear and of hate. Do you realize that?”
How To Report A Hate Crime
Anyone can report a hate crime just as they would report any other crime. If it is a crime in progress, and is serious, call 911. If it is a non-serious incident or a significant one which happened in the past, call the local precinct.
The officers who respond will provide any immediate assistance and start the reporting process.
What is the hate crime task force?
The Hate Crime Task Force is a citywide team of investigators responsible for investigating all hate crimes in New York. The unit is part of the Special Victims Division of the NYCPD.
“Hate crimes are those that target the essence of who a person is or is believed to be,” said Arkady Bukh, a noted New York criminal defense lawyer. “They are against individuals or groups based on race, color, religion, gender, disability, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation or preference, or political affiliation.”
To commemorate the flag’s 25th anniversary, Baker crafted a Rainbow Flag that reached from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean in Key West. Following the commemoration, he sent a section of the flag to over 100 cities around the planet.