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Pride flags stolen from Brooklyn neighborhoods for third time

Pride Flag
Posted at 7:01 PM, Jul 08, 2024

BROOKLYN, Ohio — For a third time, pride flags have been stolen from homes in Brooklyn. As police continue to investigate, residents are fed up and tired of waiting for the theft to be stopped.

In a few Brooklyn neighborhoods, theft has become all too common, but these thieves are looking for one thing: Pride Flags. For Darrell Carroll, after replacing his flag for a second time, they took it again.

“I had the pole secured to a point where they had to take the pole and bend it back and forth,” said Carroll.

On July 5th, he woke up to find his flag and pole gone where the only thing left behind was the broken metal in the flag mount.

“I initially felt very violated. I still feel violated, but now turned to anger, I'm very upset with the whole thing. It's disrupted. It takes time consuming and it's unreasonable to have to deal with it,” said Carroll.

Brooklyn police are investigating three incidents where they say dozens of pride flags have been stolen. The first occurred on June 23rd, the second on June 30th and the latest on July 5th. They aren't sure if they are connected or if juveniles are involved.

When the first incident occurred, News 5 spoke to Tyler Diamond who was also experiencing the theft, but now his flag has been stolen for a fourth time.

“These acts of hate have no place in our city. We urge all of our city leaders to stand with us in solidarity and support. We stand firm in our belief that love wins, always. We are not going anywhere and will continue to proudly display our support for the LGBTQ+ community,” said Diamond in a statement.

Diamond’s ring camera video from last week shows the thieves back again. This time working together to take his flagpole, once it snaps, you then see the masked individuals run off.

“Some houses they are completely ripping off the pole from the bracket, with the bracket off of people's houses, some people are just getting their flags taken,” said Benjamin Mihalek, leader of the Brooklyn LGBTQ+ community.

On Delora Avenue, during the second incident, News 5 spoke to residents in late June when their flags were gone as well, but the thieves never took Benjamin Mihalek’s until recently.

“I was very upset since I’ve had a flying for 16 years and never have had a problem and I was taken aback,” said Mihalek.

Mihalek has lived in the home for 40 years. For the past 16, his rainbow flag has hung there proudly as he continued his work to unite the LGBRQ+ community in Brooklyn, Parma as well as Brooklyn Heights. But the recent activity has reminded him that more work needs to be done.

“It's really upsetting me that instead of us learning and educating and moving forward, we're trickling back and it's just getting worse and now you have younger generations doing it,” said Mihalek.

He and his neighbors sat until 2:30 in the morning celebrating the fourth of July, but once they went to bed, the thieves got to work.

In more video, you can see multiple individuals walking across a lawn and on the sidewalk carrying those rainbow flags.

Brooklyn police say they are close to catching those responsible. When caught at the minimal level, those connected could be charged with theft, but the charges could be more serious depending on their intent.

For the residents, after 3 times too many, they are fed up with the wait.

“Where does it stop that they don't start throwing bricks in the windows? Where does it stop that they just don't start taking people's stuff out of their yards and destroying it? Where does it stop that they don't just start ripping American flags off,” said Mihalek.

Since then, new flags are already hanging, but in different locations. Some are higher, while others are on windows and doors. Neighbors say it’s a reminder that unity and resilience always win.

“We have gotten a tremendous outreach from other citizens other neighbors that have been asking for flags now they want to support they want to see equality and really just a gathering of people,” said Mihalek.

“Just makes you want to fight harder. I'm not taking my flag down it'll be up for a long time if I have to leave it up all year,” said Carroll.

Brooklyn Councilman Steven Coyle released a statement condemning the pride flag thefts, stating residents should feel safe in their homes, writing the following:

"I am deeply disappointed with what has been happening lately in our Brooklyn community. These hateful acts, violating people's personal property, is just plain wrong. I can assure you that I, as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, have a vested interest in ensuring ALL residents of the Brooklyn community feel safe in their homes (and on their properties).

Late last year, I had introduced legislation to create an Inclusion and Belonging Commission that was passed by council and then subsequently vetoed by Mayor Van Kirk. That commission would most likely not have been able to stop these individuals, but it could have helped educate people on the importance of diversity and how to respect one another. We are stronger together, harnessing the power of our differences.

These perpetrators need to be caught and held accountable for their actions, to the fullest extent of the law. The Chief of Police has assured city council that they have been working on a few leads. When I spoke to Lt. Eschweiler last week she expressed that this is a top priority for the department."


Some Brooklyn residents on edge after pride flags stolen from homes

Brooklyn residents fed up after pride flags stolen again

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