Police in Midvale, Utah, are investigating the vandalism of a gay pride flag as a possible hate crime.
Officials were contacted by Midvale resident Christian Roberts, who said someone tore down the rainbow-themed gay pride flag he was flying from the porch of his home and set it aflame on the hood of his truck. The vehicle was damaged in the act.
Roberts said that when he went outside to check on the vehicle he was planning to sell, he found the burnt remnants of his flag there.
“I saw something small and bright and colorful on the hood, and it turned out to be the flag that we fly off of our porch, and it was all burned up,” Roberts said.
The homeowner also said he was sure it was done intentionally. “It was deliberate, someone wants to send a message,” he told Fox 13. “I was more disappointed than anything else.”
Roberts also noted he had a previous rainbow flag stolen from his porch.
The Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office said it was looking closely at the vandalism. “Obviously this can be a very serious crime,” Chief Deputy Justin Hoyal said. “It could potentially be a hate crime what these individuals have done.”
The homeowner was able to sell his truck and also put up a another “pride” flag. Roberts had a message for the perpetrator of the vandalism: “Whoever you are, you kind of owe me an apology. And if you want to just knock on my door and give it, that would be really cool.”
No suspects have been identified, but anyone with information should call Unified Police at 801-743-7000.
According to the FBI’s 2014 hate crime statistics, 18.7 percent of hate crimes are committed against people because of their sexual orientation. The statistic is exceeded only by crimes against people based on race, which makes up 48.3 percent of reported hate crimes.
However, in 2014, the number of reported hate crimes only affected 6,727 victims across the whole of the country, which has a population of 305 million Americans and legal residents. That is one “hate crime” for every 45,000 people.
Although reporting from local police agencies is uneven, hate crimes make up a very small percentage of national crime statistics.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.