This week alone, Lovettsville, Virginia, has seen three reports of multiple Pride flags or other flags associated with the LGBTQ+ community being ripped down, slashed or stolen.
The first reports of the vandalism in the quiet town of about 2,500 in Loudoun County said the flags at properties on East Pennsylvania Avenue and South Loudoun Street were damaged on Monday, June 14. Then, between Tuesday and Wednesday, two flags were reported stolen from the South Loudoun Street location, and three flags were reported stolen on Berlin Turnpike, near the intersection with South Loudoun Street.
“This is a hate crime,” said Lovettsville Mayor Nate Fontaine, “targeting a protected portion of the population.”
He said only flags relating to the LGBTQ+ community were targeted.
“This is not a situation where people are just stealing flags and damaging regular property,” said Fontaine. “Whoever is doing this is targeting specific portions of the community at specific times of the year to cause fear or whatever else. These are individuals who, in my opinion, are possibly insecure, thinking they can terrorize other people to live the way they think they should be living.”
Fontaine said these actions are not reflective of the community of Lovettsville, and that he has heard nothing but support for the LGBTQ+ community and anger over the vandalism from residents.
He said he expected the Town Council to make a statement Thursday in support of the LGBTQ+ community, and he invites anyone to take part in the conversation if they believe there is something the town can do to be more inclusive.
The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department is investigating and has asked residents in the area who have exterior cameras to check them for any activity on Monday, June 14, between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m., and between 8:50 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. on on June 15 and June 16.