July 12, 2019 at 11:26 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
D.C. police seek help from public in rainbow flag incident
pride flag, gay news, Washington Blade
An unidentified man was captured on video yelling anti-gay slurs while ripping down a Pride flag. (Image via Twitter)

D.C. police have posted a video on YouTube of an unidentified male suspect ripping down a rainbow flag from a house on Capitol Hill and have appealed to the public for help in identifying the suspect.

One of the homeowners first posted the video on Twitter and on a community blog on the day the incident took place on July 2. The video was taken from a security camera attached to the house where the suspect ripped off the pole on which the flag had been hanging.

It shows the male suspect walking up to the house, pulling the pole off of the mount on which it was attached to the wall of the house, and slamming the pole and flag onto a fence. The video camera, which also has an audio recording component, also captured the suspect shouting anti-gay slurs as he grabbed and damaged the flagpole.

“The flag itself was not damaged,” said Betty Rhoades, who along with her husband, owns and lives in the house where the rainbow flag had been displayed.

“The flagpole, however, was destroyed – he ripped it out of its mount which destroyed the mount and the bottom of the pole where it attached and then he smashed it into our fence, denting it and rendering it unusable,” Rhoades told the Blade in an email.

“We displayed the flag to acknowledge and celebrate Pride month,” she said. “We have many dear friends in the LGBTQ+ community, and especially lately (with the increased assaults on LGBTQ+ rights in this country), we wanted to show them and others that our house is a safe space where they are welcome and supported,” she said.

D.C. police, who came to her and her husband’s house to take a report of the incident, have listed it as an offense of destruction of property and classified the incident as a suspected anti-LGBT hate crime.

Rhoades said police sent over a forensic team to attempt to obtain fingerprints from the flagpole. She said the officers took her and her husband’s fingerprints to rule them out from any other prints found on the pole. A police spokesperson told the Blade police never comment on evidence they obtain in an ongoing investigation.

Anyone who recognizes the suspect shown in the video and several still photos taken from the video is asked to immediately call D.C. police at 202-727-9099.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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