Crime and Justice

Pride flags set ablaze on Isle La Motte

Students wave pride flags at the Burlington High School homecoming game in October. A progress pride flag like the one seen at right was burned on Isle La Motte on Saturday. File photo by Riley Robinson/VTDigger

The area around Isle La Motte has seen several anti-LGBTQ+ incidents recently, Vermont State Police said in a Saturday press release.

At about 1 a.m. on Saturday, police received a report of flags burning at an unnamed Isle La Motte resident’s home, according to the release. 

Two LGBTQ+ flags hanging from a tree — a progress pride flag and a trans pride flag — were set on fire, police said in the release.

Police said “this is one of several similar incidents in the area occurring in the last month.”

“The resident told me that some of their friends and neighbors had previously reported some similar incidents to the (Grand Isle County) Sheriff’s Department,” Trooper Jordan Peterson told VTDigger Saturday evening.

The person whose flags were burned told police they had previously had their pride flags stolen, Peterson said. After their flags were stolen, friends and neighbors put up their own pride flags in solidarity. Those flags also were stolen, Peterson said. 

The state police said they indicated to the Vermont Attorney General’s Office’s Bias Incident Reporting System that the case might be a possible hate crime.

The Bias Incident Reporting System was originally created to better respond to threats and language that is threatening but not necessarily criminal.

“Whether rising to the level of a hate crime or not, bias incidents include events intended to threaten, offend or intimidate another because of the other’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, age, disability, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, gender identity or service in the armed forces,” according to a 2019 draft memo for state’s attorneys to send to their deputies.

“Recently the AG’s Office has made a push to collect data to better understand and analyze bias incidents,” Peterson said. “So this is basically just a notification to the AG’s Office that this happened.” He said it is not an official referral for the Attorney General’s Office’s investigation.

Police said they do not have any suspects.

“Because there’s no real witnesses or evidence right now, this one’s definitely gonna take some help from the public,” Peterson said. “I think it will take the community coming together to try to figure out who did this and hold them responsible.”Vermont State Police asked anyone with information to contact the agency at 802-524-5993.

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Jeralyn Darling

About Jeralyn

As VTDigger's news editor, Jeralyn Darling anchors the night desk, often as the final set of eyes on stories before they are published. Before arriving at VTDigger she was a night desk editor at the Valley News, covering the Upper Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire. Jeralyn has spent the last 14 years as a journalist. She holds a BA in journalism and sociology from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. When not at work, Jeralyn can be found on the trail with her husband, in the woods hunting mushrooms or volunteering with animals.

Email: [email protected]

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