Pride flag intolerance affects the community of Claremont


by Andrew Alonzo | [email protected]

Part one of two: Fighting for the flag

It was a routine morning for Abbie Moore, a Claremont resident for 10 years, as she woke up and started her day on June 27. Everything was fine until she noticed something that was missing from her house: the pride flag that was hanging in front of her porch.

“I was in my kitchen on Sunday and walked into my living room where I usually have a really good view of the flag,” she said. “Sometimes the wind winds it around the post, but I haven’t seen it at all. I walked out and looked at the place in front of my house where the pole went up and it was gone, it was all gone. The flag, the pole, the support that was bolted… screwed into the house. As if everything was gone.

At first she thought he had fallen in the bushes, but after searching he was nowhere to be found. Ms Moore asked her neighbors and friends if the flag had been there earlier. A neighbor said he did not recall seeing the flag as he walked out of the driveway.

“It was so unreal, like, did someone come and actually take this?” she wondered.

After a while, she deduced that at best some neighborhood kids took it as a prank. But as she recounted the situation over and over again, reality began to set in and she realized that not only had someone stolen her property, but also that the abuser was just inches from home. her in the middle of the night. Fortunately, her family was on vacation and she was alone at the time.

“Because I was home alone, I felt raped not only because someone stole something that belongs to me, but because someone took away something that is at the heart of who I and my family are, ”she said. “The only reason I can think of someone who does… is that someone was offended by my promotion of equality.

“Tearing up someone’s flag or taking their sign or whatever, it sends the message that your beliefs are not welcome. That your beliefs are so offensive that they cannot be tolerated. That your rights and the rights of those you love are not valid.

Ms. Moore subsequently called the police to have peace of mind. “I just wanted someone to know that this had happened, especially in case other people were going through the same sort of thing.” Unfortunately, what happened to Ms Moore was not a one-time incident during the month of June, it was the last incident.

Two other incidents

June is widely recognized as Pride Month in honor of the Stonewall Riots in New York in 1969, a pivotal event that started the gay liberation movement. During the month of June, some residents felt that Claremont had failed to display a pride flag. The city also had to explain why two other crimes targeting the LGBTQ + community occurred.

Days before Ms Moore had her flag flown, several residents reported two more incidents that occurred in June, including another stolen Pride flag.

The cascade of incidents began on Wednesday, June 9 at the Queer Resource Center (QRC) at Claremont Colleges, reporting to campus security that their progress indicator had been stolen.

“QRC staff noted that the flag had been ripped off, leaving behind the white edge area of ​​the flag that had been bolted to the overhang on the south side of the Walton Commons. QRC staff could not find any notes, graffiti or other messages related to the theft and there are no recording cameras in the area. Laura Muna-Landa, director of communications for Claremont Colleges Services, wrote in a press release. “Campus security is not aware of any previous thefts or similar issues at Claremont colleges.”

In addition to the stolen flags, during the Claremont City Council meeting on June 22, residents complained of an altercation in the Village between two groups of minors. One group alleged that homophobic slurs were used against a person holding a pride flag.

The Claremont Police Department (CPD) has cautioned against classifying the village incident as a “hate crime“, as video evidence taken by one of the disputes victims claim. Police Chief Shelly Vander Veen said in an email. “There was a reported assault in the village involving a young adult wearing a pride flag. An assault took place, but it was unrelated to a pride flag being present. “

But Claremont resident Jessica MacLachlan, a relative of one of the victims involved in the altercation, disputes the police request. “Statements were made to them and these statements say that Group B was shouting homophobic slurs. And that, it really feels like they were picking up that pride flag and seeing that pride gear. I find it hard to understand how the police came to the conclusion that they were in fact not motivated by hatred of a certain group of people.

So what exactly happened? According to CPD, the altercation between the minors occurred on June 11 around 3 p.m. in Village West. Prior to the incident, accounts from CPD and Ms MacLachlan depicted three grade seven students from El Roble hanging out in the village. One child was in possession of a Pride flag, another minor was wearing Pride socks, and another minor was walking with them. This trio will be identified as Group A.

According to Ms MacLachlan, who recounted what her child told her, Group A was spotted by a larger group of children who began to ‘make them uncomfortable’ and follow them into the center. city. Some in the larger group of children then started bombarding Group A with homophobic slurs (police did not confirm), in addition to telling them to “hurt themselves”.

Group A tried to escape by crossing the street, but they were followed by the larger group. Three underage women (Group B) would then have faced Group A at the northeast corner of Indian Hill Boulevard and First Street.

According to CPD Detective Jacob Tillman, “From what was reported to us, the person holding the flag made comments to someone from the other group and this prompted the person from the other group to fight. with them.”

Police did not say who threw the first punch, but Ms MacLachlan did. In front of Group A, one of the three minors allegedly physically hit one of the students in Group A, causing panic and the flight of the other two members of Group A. Ms. MacLachlan explained that while another minor from the group A was escaping with the pride flag, the girls in Group B turned around and asked her child “if she would like to be next”. The girls allegedly pressed the minor against the wall and penetrated her face.

An adult witness to what was happening called the police. Although the 911 caller was not identified, Ms MacLachlan expressed her gratitude when she learned it was a mental health worker from Tri-City.

“Tri-City Health was actually in the village and they did exactly what they were supposed to do. This is the team that works with the police to help defuse situations. They came and they… spoke to the [larger] group and dispersed the group, ”said Ms. MacLachlan.

Police say a teenager was arrested and transferred to Pomona Juvenile Court following the altercation. It is not known if the 15-year-old has been charged with anything related to the crime.

Asked whether similar events would have happened without any recollection of pride in Group A, Ms MacLachlan said: ‘I don’t think it would be. [have] because you know the kids would sort of mingle with the crowd.

The child who originally held the flag recorded the incident on his cell phone and gave the footage to police, according to Ms MacLachlan.

“I also really want to make sure it is known that in our community not everyone is accepted and should be,” said Ms. MacLachlan. “I think that every child should be able to walk in the village, whether they are LGBTQ, black, Asian or Latino, or that everyone should be able to walk in this village and feel safe. And currently my daughter does not. We need to come together as a community and make it known that this is just not acceptable.

“The two incidents in June do not indicate a ‘trend’ of violence or aggression towards the LGBTQ + community,” Chief Vander Veen wrote in an email.

At the June 22 city council meeting, seven citizens expressed disgust at what had happened in the previous weeks and asked the city to hoist the pride flag during the month of June to show community support. Council member Ed Reece asked city attorney Alisha Patterson if the flag measurements could be revised, even if it could potentially open a “box of worms.”

Responding to requests, Patterson explained that while there is no legal requirement, “when you choose to display a flag, you will likely receive requests to display other flags as well. So historically, Claremont hasn’t really opened that door to anything other than what’s up there today: the American flag. But it’s something we can bring back for the board.

But with just eight days remaining in June, the request to hoist the flag was never honored.

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