A pride flag hanging at Saint Mark’s in the Valley Episcopal Church in Santa Ynez was cut down on Thursday, July 28, and two people identified as “young adults” have been determined by the Sheriff’s Office to be suspects in the hate crime.
The Santa Ynez Valley Pride organization put out a statement about the incident via Instagram on Thursday, describing the act as “one of hate.” After the incident was publicized, community members reported seeing videos of the pride flag being burnt circulating on Snapchat.
“The people who did this are out of step with the community and out of step with everybody,” Father Randall Day, pastor at Saint Mark’s told News Channel 3-12 on Thursday. “A flag is a flag, but it was obviously representative of a lot of people in our community and in Santa Barbara County, and that’s our concern.”
The flag was one of five different flags being flown outside the church, about 20 feet above ground. There was no damage to other flags or the structure of the flagpole.
Detectives from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office identified two suspects only named as “young adults” in a press release. The suspects admitted to detectives that they had previously stolen a pride flag from the Ballard area, near Buellton, and had also stolen and filmed themselves burning pride flags.
The Sheriff’s Office requested the Santa Barbara District Attorney charge the suspects with petty theft and committing a hate crime but did not arrest the unnamed suspects. The Independent has requested the names of the suspects, but the Sheriff’s Office did not respond in time for publication.