PROVO, Utah – Provo Police are looking for thieves targeting Pride flags displayed on people’s lawns. In one case, a local church promoting the upcoming Provo Pride festival was vandalized.
Becky Ortinez was proud to display Pride flags at her home. She wanted to show her support for her local LGBTQ neighbors as they prepare for Saturday’s Pride festival in Provo.
But when someone defaced one of the flags with hateful messages, she couldn’t believe it.
“My 7-year-old who just started reading and I said stop reading cause those are bad words,” said Ortinez.
The next day, thieves took the flag. Once it was replaced, they struck again. By the end of the week, all four flags were gone.
“It’s been a roller coaster of a week,” said Ortinez.
A Pride flag is also posted at the Community Congregational Church in Provo. Police say their sign announcing special services celebrating Pride Week was also vandalized.
“This is not something they deserve,” said Jerilyn Pool, a Provo Pride board member.
This is the first time the group has worked with Project Rainbow to place flags for a $15 donation, leading up to the Pride Festival on Saturday.
“There are people in these neighborhoods who are closeted, not out, and they see a rainbow flag in someone’s yard and think, 'that’s a safe place,' and if it’s been vandalized or stolen, they realize maybe there’s more people in the neighborhood who aren’t safe,” said Pool.
Through all of this, there was a bright spot. Yesterday, Ortinez was surprised to find four brand new flags back on her lawn.
“I'm assuming that it's the original four that were stolen and not defaced, and they returned them,” Ortinez said.
She’s not sure if the thieves had a change of heart, but she does have a message for them.
“Love people and if someone has a different opinion than you do, you can share it respectfully, but don't take their property,” Ortinez said.