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By Christyn Allen
ERIE, Pa. (Erie News Now) – An LGBTQ pride flag flying outside of a wellness center in Erie, Pa. has been burned, according to officials with the clinic.
“The flag, itself, is a sign of dignity and respect it’s a sign of community. We want people to feel safe here,” said Dalon Michael, Clinic Manager of Central Outreach in Erie.
The medical facility, servicing primarily LGBTQ+ people, organization is easily spotted by its pride flags displayed on the outside of their building.
For the LGBTQ+ community, the Pride flag represents safety and love.
“It’s very important that people feel valued, that people valued, that people feel supported because you don’t get that everywhere you go,” said Michael.
It’s all too often symbols of love are attacked with acts of hate. “My staff came outside to check it out, and we noticed that someone had burned one of our flags,” said Michael.
Sometime Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, someone snapped one of three flag poles that were mounted on the front of Central Outreach’s building and lit the organization’s gay pride flag on fire.
“I really feel like someone went out of their way to hurt me and hurt my community,” said Michael, holding the flag, now tattered.
It was a heartbreaking sight for those who work hard to make this a safe place.
“You just don’t touch other people’s property. Regardless of how you feel about it, everyone deserves to feel safe. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.
The story doesn’t end with a burnt flag. Although it was damaged to send a message of hate, a replacement flag is already flying in its place, carrying on a message of love.
“We’re going to continue to replace these flags, and keep fresh flags up. A simple sign of hate is not going to change who we are or what we do,” said Michael.
Central Outreach is pressing charges, once the vandal is caught.
Erie Police are investigating.
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