An LGBTQ flag was burned at an elementary school in California earlier this month ahead of a Gay Pride event and police are investigating the incident as a hate crime, authorities said.
Someone broke into Saticoy Elementary School in North Hollywood over the weekend before May 22 and burned the flag, according to the Los Angeles Unified School District.
A Los Angeles police spokesman said Wednesday that the incident is being investigated as a «vandalism hate crime.»
Alan Hamilton, deputy chief of the LAPD’s Valley Office, said in a statement Wednesday that the Pride flag was in a flower pot.
«There was a small potted plant that caught fire on campus and the plant had a small PRIDE flag (4 x 6 inches) inside the container for the potted plant. Both the plant and the flag were destroyed by fire,» he said. . .
«There are no suspects in custody at this time,» Hamilton added.
Los Angeles School Police will provide additional patrols around campus, according to a statement from the school system.
The incident remains an «active investigation» by the Los Angeles Police Department, according to the school system.
Renato Lira, director of the San Fernando Valley LGBTQ Center, He said there is a Pride assembly at the school scheduled for Friday and that the organization is working with the school and LAPD to make sure students «are safe going to school and when they leave campus.» .
June is Pride Month dedicated to recognizing the achievements and historical discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.
Lira also said: “We are really concerned, we wanted to make sure that the children are safe during the time they are inside the school. We’re working on this all day. We keep an eye on social media, including reaching out to the school district and the Los Angeles Police Department. We have meetings every day.»
Los Angeles reported that some parents plan for their children not to go to school on Friday, the day of the Pride event.
The news outlet also reported that a flyer was posted on a social media account called @Saticoyelementaryparents. The account encouraged parents to keep their children at home and to “protest the Pride assembly, an inappropriate topic for our children!”
The account was created earlier this month after parents saw a rainbow parade on the school calendar, NBC Los Angeles reported.
The district shared a message to Saticoy families on May 22.
“I’m calling to let you know that we experienced a break-in over the weekend at Saticoy Elementary that resulted in vandalism and is being investigated as a hate-motivated incident. We are cooperating with law enforcement. This is a reminder that we trust our entire school community to keep our school safe by reporting any suspicious activity on campus after hours. If you see something, say something, the message said.
“Los Angeles Unified is committed to creating a safe and inclusive learning environment that embraces the diversity of the communities we serve. The District encourages everyone in our school communities to treat each other with respect, kindness, and compassion so that our students can be empowered to reach their highest potential,” the message continued.
Hate crimes in the US increased 11.6% in 2021 from the previous year, according to revised figures released by the FBI in March.
The statistics showed that 12,411 people were reported as victims of hate crimes in 2021, 64.5% of them because of their race or ethnicity, 15.9% because of their sexual orientation, and 14.1% because of their religion. Reports increased from 8,120 in 2020 to 9,065 in 2021; some crimes had multiple victims.
In 2020, hate crime reports increased by less than 3% over the previous year.
michael kosnar contributed.