A heterosexual family in Charleston, South Carolina, was shocked to find the rainbow flag they fly outside their home burnt in their driveway.
Police are investigating, but in the meantime, the surrounding community is responding by raising rainbow flags of their own.
After news broke about the incident, the Alliance For Full Acceptance (AFFA) announced it would give away rainbow or transgender flags to anyone who wanted to fly them in solidarity with the couple.
AFFA Executive Director Chase Glenn said so far the group has given out more than 80 flags, NBC News reported.
Police say the flag was ‘blackened and charred’ in the driveway, according to Charleston’s Post and Courier. Now police are trying to decide if it was a simple case of vandalism or a hate crime.
South Carolina does not have a hate crimes law. However, Charleston enacted its own such law in November 2018 to protect minority groups.
If police decide it is a hate crime, it will be the first time the law has been used.
Family has flown flag since January
A police spokesperson said the rainbow flag has been flying on a flagpole on the family’s house for about three months.
‘There’s people on our street that have South Carolina flags, United States flags, different college flags, garden flags … obviously the rainbow is what attracted them to ours,’ the homeowner told NBC.
He asked that his name not be used to protect his family’s safety and privacy. They are a heterosexual couple with three young children.
‘I wouldn’t be surprised if the people who did this didn’t even know who we were or who lived in the home,’ the homeowner said. ‘It was just the fact that it was a rainbow flag, and they didn’t agree with that.’
AFFA’s executive director Glenn told the Post and Courier, ‘Whenever an incident like this happens, it can really kind of get into the psyche of the LGBTQ community just knowing that this sort of thing still exists and still happened.’
‘But to know the incident is being taken seriously by the police is very comforting,’ Glenn added.