A progress Pride flag was burned at the home of a male couple in Boise, Idaho, after one flag had been stolen and another vandalized earlier.
The flag was burned October 4 at the home of married couple John Michael Schert and Brett Perry, the Idaho Statesman reports. They didn’t report the other incidents to police but decided to report this one.
“We reported this incident because burning feels like so much of an escalation,” Schert told the Statesman. “It’s quite dangerous, and our house could have caught on fire. This feels much more hateful — someone knowing how to cover your camera and then defacing your flag on your property. That feels aggressive and it feels scary because they knew what they were doing.”
The men live in Boise’s North End, an area known for progressive politics in a largely conservative state. Schert said it seems people are coming to the neighborhood with the intent of destroying property. Police have received reports of seven stolen or defaced Pride flags in the area this year. The flag-burning at Schert and Perry’s home remains under investigation.
Neighbors and others are rallying around the couple. An LGBTQ+ liaison from the Boise Police Department came to the men’s house within an hour, and numerous people have responded by flying Pride flags for the first time or donating them to be distributed around the state. Donald Williamson, executive director of Boise Pride, saw a tweet from Sam Sandmire, a friend of Schert’s, and donated more than 30 flags that Sandmire handed out at a Women’s March last weekend in Boise. And the couple’s Instagram posts about the matter have been viewed widely.
“Intimidation only works when it silences people, and we have no intention of being silent and no intention of leaving,” Schert told the Statesman. “If you burn our one flag, we now have over 1,000 people putting up new progress flags who have never run them before. You think you can just burn one flag, and all you did was exponentially increase the number of representation.”
David Roth, a gay Democrat who’s running for U.S. senator from Idaho against Republican incumbent Mike Crapo, told the paper that representation matters. “It helps people who are just trying to come to terms with who they are to know that we are good people who are involved in the community,” he said. “We volunteer, we go to church, we raise our families. You can be all of these things. You don’t have to give up any of these things and you can still be who you are.”
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