(PHOTO: The LGBTQ+ Pride flag on this lawn, from the local pRYEde group, was burned in Rye overnight.)
A LGBTQ+ Pride lawn flag was burned in Rye overnight.
The vandalism was discovered by the Bradford Avenue homeowner while walking her dog Saturday morning. “I looked close and saw that it [the sign] had actually been burned,” said Jackie Cohen, who lives in the residence with her husband and their two sons. “It is so disheartening. I feel really bothered by this,” continued Cohen, who grew up in Rye.
The vandalism has provoked widespread condemnation. “Everyone is pretty bent out of shape,” said Genevieve Weber Gilmore, one of the co-founders of the Rye pRYEde group. The flag was one of the 275 pRYEde group flags sold over the summer to commemorate Pride month in June.
“I believe that it may be a hate crime,” Rye Mayor Josh Cohn told MyRye.com “This was an abhorrent act. It is not representative of the Rye community and I am sure that our community will not tolerate it.” The Mayor is expected to make an additional statement at the scheduled city council meeting Monday night.
(PHOTO: You have seen these local pRYEde group flags across Rye since June.)
The Rye pRYEde group and the Human Rights Commission issued a statement Saturday afternoon. “This act of hate and intolerance is shocking and heartbreaking. Incidents like this, although hurtful and hard to grasp or understand, serve as an opportunity for a courageous conversation within our community about acceptance, kindness, and inclusion,” the joint statement said in part.
“This summer we moved 275 steps forward with 275 flags flying on our properties and in our businesses. This one step back still leaves us ahead with 274. Love is winning.” The full statement is posted just below.
The homeowner, Cohen, reported the incident to the police. Rye PD sent an officer to take a statement and then later in the afternoon sent a detective. It is expected the detective will be canvassing the area for any security video or other clues. The matter will likely be referred to the district attorney and the big question is if it will be formally classified as a hate crime.
Rye PD declined comment Saturday as it is an active investigation in its early stages.
Here is the statement from the pRYEde group and the Human Rights Commission:
pRYEde Community Group and Rye City Human Rights Commission Joint Statement on Flag Burning in Rye
On August 15th 2020, the pRYEde Community Group (“pRYEde”) and Rye City Human Rights Commission (“HRC”) learned that a pRYEde/GSA rainbow flag purchased by a local family and on display on their property was set on fire and burned.
This act of hate and intolerance is shocking and heartbreaking. Incidents like this, although hurtful and hard to grasp or understand, serve as an opportunity for a courageous conversation within our community about acceptance, kindness, and inclusion.
We encourage you to talk to your families about this incident, what it means and how it might feel for our LGBTQ+ community members to see their identities erased by flames. We ask parents to think about how you might be more inclusive in your language, communications and actions; we ask our youth to be more vocal among their peer groups about the importance of understanding, acceptance, and kindness towards those who need it most.
This summer we moved 275 steps forward with 275 flags flying on our properties and in our businesses. This one step back still leaves us ahead with 274. Love is winning.
The incident has been reported to Rye police, and pRYEde Community Group has donated two new flags at the request of the family.
Perhaps you might consider putting your pRYEde flags back out as a symbol of support. We have ours out.
In peace, love, and solidarity,
Cofounders of pRYEde Community Group
Alison Cupp Relyea
Danielle Tagger Epstein
The Rye City Human Rights Commission
Danielle Tagger-Epstein Chairperson
Alison Cupp Relyea