The Taber Equality Alliance (TEA) will be holding it’s third pride flag raising ceremony today due to a recent act of vandalism. TEA says they found out that a vandal crept into the Confederation Park sometime Saturday evening or early Sunday morning and set the flag on fire.
This is the first time the LGBTQ Pride flag has flown in Taber AB, a town of just under 10,000 people located about 50 kilometers east of Lethbridge AB. “It is a total hate crime” says Kathleen McKenzie, co-chair of the Taber Equality Alliance Society. “They’ve definitely got a lo of hate going on and the only way to fight hate is with love and that’s how we’re going to fight it. The flag will go back up”
This was the second time that the flag was destroyed since it was raised on June 12th. On June 18h, the first flag was found shredded and tied to tree branches nearby. Lethbridge Pride is donating another flag to be raised in a ceremony later today, Monday June 26th.
TEA released the following statement ” We will gather once again on Monday June 26th to raise the LGBTQ pride flag in Taber. This will be the third flag raising in Taber since June 12th. The first flag was stolen early June 19th, and with heavy hearts we learned today (June 25th) that the second flag had been burned on the flagpole early this morning. Fortunately the fire did not spread to the surrounding trees or gazebo.”
They go on to say “We are still here. Our hears are strong. This is not a deterrent but a call to love. What has been done to our flags spotlights the persistent and consistent oppression of LGBTQ people. If you have not experienced mistreatment because of who you love, or how you identify, then please consider yourself fortunate.
Do not look away from what has happened in Taber, twice in 2017, We will continue to show up, live openly, and love with whole hearts. We have tremendous love and courage and we are still convince that love will triumph. We invite all our allies, friends, and neighbours to attend on Monday and stand with us in solidarity, We are proud once again to raise the flag in Taber. May you find love today.”
The Taber Police Department are treating the burning of the flag as an arson as according to Taber Police Chief Graham Abela, “someone used fuel to light a flagpole on fire Saturday and it spread to the flag. Police have spoken with the TEA about the incident and have offered victim services supports. Police are looking for tips from the public to help with the investigation. “This act of arson is a public safety concern and is not taken lightly by the Taber Police. This type of activity is not in keeping with the values of the community and we denounce this crime.”