New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is speaking out against what he called a “despicable act” after someone burned two gay pride flags outside a bar in Harlem.
The incident happened on Friday night, with the New York Post reporting that an unidentified arsonist set fire to the flags that had been set up by the owners of the Alibi Lounge, a gay bar on West 139th Street. No one was hurt, but many in the city’s LGBTQ community saw it as an act of hatred.
“Some a–hole set our rainbow flags on fire!” the bar tweeted. “It’s a hate crime!”
Gov. Cuomo appeared to agree, decrying the attack as “disgusting” and “repugnant” in a statement released on Saturday.
“I am disgusted by the burning of a Pride flag outside an LGBTQ bar in Harlem early yesterday morning,” Cuomo said in a statement posted on Twitter. “Rather than divide New Yorkers, this despicable act will only strengthen our commitment to tolerance, equality and justice for every individual.”
Others have vowed to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice. As the New York Daily News noted, the owners of the Alibi Lounge posted a message on the bar’s Instagram account saying they will find who burned the flags.
“We will make our mission to find you!” the message warned.
It was not clear if police had a suspect or suspects in mind, or what evidence they might have from the incident.
The flag burning took place at a time of heightened tension within the LGBTQ community, related largely to policies enacted by the Trump administration. LGBTQ activists have criticized Trump’s stances on a number of issues, from his ban of transgender service members, to laws that claim to support religious freedom, but critics say serve as a way to legalize discrimination against homosexuals.
The American Civil Liberties Union has also pushed back against reported plans to put in place a new rule that would make it easier to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples who want to open their homes to children in the foster system.
“We will make our mission to find you!” says the Instagram account of Alibi Lounge.— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) June 2, 2019
Authorities are treating the incident as a hate crime.https://t.co/pvWHinGJKD
The flag-burning incident took place as New York City was set to host a month-long NYC Pride event, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the landmark Stonewall Uprising. There are more than 50 events planned over the course of June, and organizers said they expect a total of 3 million people will take part during the celebrations.