Police are investigating a number of thefts and vandalism targeting Pride objects, such as flags. However, members of the community are stepping up to counter the hateful vandalism.
In the community of Newburgh, the Pride flag was torn down from the Newburgh Public School flag pole, and two decorative rocks painted in Pride colours were vandalized at the village’s Hollow Square Market sometime overnight between Sunday, Jun. 12 and Monday, Jun. 13, 2022.
“We are extremely heartbroken and, quite frankly, absolutely enraged and disgusted to have to write the following post,” wrote the admin of the Hollow Square Market’s Facebook page Monday morning, “Our Pride rocks have been defaced. This is a hate crime and it has been reported to the police. We do not take this lightly. We will be installing cameras on the property today. It hurts our hearts that we even have to do this… To members of the LGBTQ2S+ community: we are so sorry that this happened. We want you to know you are loved and you matter… We will not let this hate stop us from displaying our love and support. We certainly will not allow it to stop us from celebrating Pride at this weekend’s market.”
Late Monday the rocks were covered with brightly coloured picnic tablecloths and flower arrangements until they could be repainted ahead of Pride festivities at the Market on Saturday, Jun. 18, 2022.
Pictures of the newly repainted rocks are now posted on the Market’s Facebook page. Desiree Barbosa observed ironically, “The rocks look brighter and more beautiful with the base layer.”
Market-goers attending on Saturday are being asked by organizers to bring their own small painted rocks because, in their words, “we would love to surround our rocks with beautiful art from the community. We want to see our Pride display come back bigger, better, and brighter than it was before.”
Similarly, the Pride flag was torn down from the Newburgh Public School’s flag pole that same night. However, the parents and students of the school community were having none of the hate. Several of them returned after school hours Monday to create public art in honour of Pride. Rainbows and hearts festooned every space around the little school.
Ahead of Saturday’s Market, organizers wrote a note of thanks and encouragement about the community’s reaction: “Every message, phone call, share, and reaction has meant so much to us… It has reassured us that the acts of one person or a few people do not reflect who we are as a community, and we are so thankful for that. We have been asked numerous times if there is anything the community can do to help… we have been accepting donations that will go to Trellis HIV and Community Care (formerly HIV/AIDS Regional Services/HARS) in Kingston, which facilitates a number of LGBTQ2S+ services and programs. We will have a donation jar at the entrance to the market on Saturday.”