SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - The burning of a pride flag in San Luis Obispo is being investigated as a hate crime. The victim--San Luis Obispo City Mayor Heidi Harmon.
"The flag had been burned and left their purposely," she says.
Detective Suzie Aanerud with the San Luis Obispo Police Department says this happened Wednesday evening.
"This is really unacceptable and concerning," says Harmon.
Police are investigating this as a hate crime, even though Harmon is a straight woman.
"Those of us in the community or allies seem to be equally at risk with the blow back and negativity," she says.
The crime took place during pride month, something that hits close for many.
"We need to stick together, we need to make sure our voices are heard and that acts like this aren't tolerated," says Ryan Duclos, GALA Board President.
Mayor Harmon says this act goes against everything the community is and stands for.
"People should know acts like this won't work from keeping allies and LGBT from standing up for each other," says Harmon.
Someone also cut up signs with messages of inclusion and unity also at Harmon's home.
Anyone with information is asked to call the San Luis Obispo Police Department.
"We ask the community increase their communication with us as police and reach out to us," says Detective Suzie Aanerud.
Mayor Harmon released the following statement:
"A rainbow flag typically associated with LGTBQ rights, hanging outside my home was burned and left in front of my home. In addition, a yard sign that was in support of civil rights for all in my yard was slashed late Wednesday night. It is disheartening more than anything to see this type of negative action when I believe that so much can be accomplished through meaningful dialogue, even when there are differing opinions."
"We are in a time in history where personal attacks have been normalized on a national level, and we see that type of behavior replicated across the country. This is uncalled for and unacceptable. The City Council recently adopted a welcoming city ordinance deeming San Luis Obispo a welcoming and inclusive city. Anything that does not promote and support inclusively on all levels for all people is unacceptable and will not be tolerated."
"We live in a time that calls for us all to work together through our differences of opinion and belief systems, to embrace marginalized people groups and practice committed compassion and equality. I stand with those who feel threatened, frustrated, misunderstood, and marginalized. I hope that the people of SLO will continue to work together to embrace our differences, and I am more dedicated than ever to continuing to move forward, to hear every voice, and to work together with all our residents to have a happy, safe, supportive SLO."
The hate crime was reported to police on Thursday. Detective Aanerud says the city has recently created PACT, Police and Community Together, that assigns officers to different community groups to help build strong relationships.
For this particular investigation, the police department is teaming up with the LGBT community to try and figure out what happened.
The Detective says they want community members to come forward and report hate crime and hate speech. She says it gives the police department a chance to track down what's happening in the community.
Detective Aanerud says there are no other known instances like this one of a burned pride flag within city limits. She says there is no tolerance for crimes like this. She wants to reinforce that safety and inclusion are a priority for officials in the city.