Police are investigating missing and damaged pride flags in Boise's North End
The Boise Police Department is looking into incidents of missing and damaged pride flags on a North End street.
The department said the reports are being investigated for possible malicious harassment charges.
“It’s very frustrating," said Joseph Kibbe, the vice president of the Boise Pride Festival’s board of directors. "It’s very sad for the community. It makes Boise feel a little less safe and a little less welcoming.”
On Wednesday, 21 flags were missing and one was damaged, according to BPD. One day later, that total was upped to 35, representing about two-thirds of the ones the organization put up with the North End Neighborhood Association.
They're also the flags purchased through a community response to a similar incident last year in which police responded to stolen and damaged pride flags in the North End. That lead to the arrest of an 18-year-old suspect.
Also after last year, the organization tried to make the flags more difficult to take down by using metal – instead of wooden – poles, and by upgrading the flags to ones made of stronger material.
"It still did not seem to be a deterrence," Kibbe said.
Police said the department first learned about the missing flags on Wednesday, though they could have been taken earlier in the week.
BPD said it began investigating immediately, stopping at every home on Harrison Blvd. between W. Ada Street and W. Bella Steet to ask residents for their surveillance camera footage.
“Our officers will not tolerate any crime that targets or makes someone feel targeted because of who they are or who they choose to love,” said Boise Police Deputy Chief Tammany Brooks in a press release.
The department is asking anyone with information to contact the police.
Kibbe said people interested in helping replace the flags can donate to the Boise Pride Festival. He is also encouraging people to put the rainbow pride flags outside their own homes.
The organization typically hosts its annual festival around Pride Month – a celebration of the LGBTQ community and a commemoration of how it fought back against New York police in the 1969 Stonewall riots – but this year’s event is taking place in September.
Editor’s note: This post was updated with information from Joseph Kibbe of the Boise Pride Festival.
Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen
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