Long Island police have arrested 21-year-old Ronald Tyler Witt for allegedly stealing not one, but six rainbow flags from his local Sayville Congregational United Church of Christ over the past few months.
The church’s openly gay pastor, Ray Bagnuolo, put up a sign after the first flag was stolen, reading “You destroyed our welcoming Rainbow Flag twice. It WAS an act of fear. It IS an act of hate. Do you realize that? IT WAS NOT KIND. IT IS HURTFUL. Instead of doing it again, talk with us. We will talk with you. You, too, are welcome here.”
However, the sign did little to deter Witt, who apparently went on to steal five more flags from outside of the church before being caught on surveillance cameras.
While Witt’s father claims the theft was merely a prank, ABC reports that Witt left an American flag and a POW flag at the church in place of the LGBT flag, and told police he “didn’t want to see a gay flag on a church.”
After the wave of LGBTQ candidates winning their midterm elections Tuesday night (and noted homophobes such as Kentucky clerk Kim Davis losing theirs), hopefully we will continue to move even more towards acceptance for the community, but for now, it’s good to see the mystery of one petty hate crime solved.
And hopefully the church will be able to hold on to their next flag.