A group of three men allegedly damaged multiple rainbow Pride flags on display at New York City’s Stonewall National Monument over the weekend, in what police are investigating as a possible hate crime.
The New York City Police Department confirmed Monday that it is investigating the incident. It also tweeted surveillance footage of the three men walking near the monument, which is located in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, and asked for the public's assistance to identify them.
New York City Councilmember Erik Bottcher, who is gay and whose district includes Greenwich Village, also confirmed the vandalism, posting images of the broken rainbow flags on Twitter on Saturday.
“Someone vandalized the rainbow flag display on the Stonewall National Monument on Christopher Street, snapping the flag sticks and throwing them on the ground,” Bottcher wrote on Twitter. “If anyone thinks this is going to intimidate us or weaken our resolve, they’re mistaken.”
The Stonewall National Monument, where the vandalism took place, is across the street from the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar that was the site of a June 1969 uprising that’s widely considered to be a turning point in the modern gay rights movement. The bar and the nearby Christopher Park became a national monument and the first LGBTQ space to hold landmark status in New York City in 2016.
The vandalism comes amid Pride Month, a worldwide annual commemoration of the 1969 protests and celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people during the month of June.
It also coincides with a surge in similar anti-LGBTQ demonstrations across the nation throughout the last year.
A recent report by the Crowd Counting Consortium, a research group that tracks the size of political protests, found that there have been an average of 39 anti-LGBTQ protests nationwide each month since June 2022, compared with just three per month from January 2017 through May 2022.
Last week, a Pride flag was taken down and burned outside a City Hall building in Tempe, Arizona, a city of 186,000 people that’s about 10 miles east of Phoenix. A Pride flag was similarly set ablaze outside a Manhattan restaurant in February.