Rainbow flags vandalized at Stonewall National Monument in New York City

<span>Pride flags and colors on the Stonewall Inn bar, in New York City on 3 June 2019.</span><span>Photograph: Bebeto Matthews/AP</span>
Pride flags and colors on the Stonewall Inn bar, in New York City on 3 June 2019.Photograph: Bebeto Matthews/AP

Rainbow flags lining the Stonewall National Monument in New York City to celebrate Pride month were taken down and destroyed this week, police said, marking the second year in a row that the flags have been vandalized during the annual celebration of the LGBTQ+ community throughout June.

Authorities received a report early on Friday about the missing flags at the monument in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village neighborhood.

A preliminary investigation found that an unidentified person had removed and destroyed multiple flags at the site on Thursday night. The person then fled, the police said.

There were no injuries reported, and no arrests have been announced. The investigation is ongoing, the police department said on Saturday morning.

New York city council member Erik Bottcher, who is gay and whose district includes Greenwich Village, posted images of the damaged flags in a social media post, writing: “Anyone who thinks this will intimidate our community is badly mistaken.”

New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, described the vandalism as “disgusting” and called on anyone with information to contact the police. “In New York, we stand for love and acceptance, not hate and bigotry,” James wrote.

“The desecration of Pride decorations is unacceptable under any circumstances and especially hateful during Pride Month,” Democratic New York representative Dan Goldman wrote. “As a community, we must push back against hate of any kind.”

The New York City mayor, Eric Adams, who on Thursday hosted a Pride month party at his official residence at Gracie Mansion, also condemned the vandalism.

“Hate has no place in our city, and nothing will change that,” Adams wrote. “We love the LGBTQ+ community and celebrate them during Pride and all year round. We’ll always have your back, and we will bring whoever defaced the Stonewall monument to justice.”

The Stonewall National Monument includes Christopher Park and the Stonewall Inn, where gay men, lesbians and drag queens reacted to a police raid in 1969 with a riot that turned into the LGBTQ+ rights movement in America and around the world.

In 2016, the Obama White House designated the Stonewall Inn as the country’s first-ever national monument to the LGBTQ+ equality movement. That was less than two weeks after 49 people were shot to death in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Last year, Pride flags at the monument were vandalized on three separate occasions during Pride month. Three men were arrested in connection to the incidents and charged with criminal mischief as a hate crime.

Less than a day after the flags were broken and stolen this week, a replacement for every one had been mounted, WABC reported.“I wish people would just educate themselves on Stonewall and the amazing things that happened here,” a resident told the outlet. “It was a really, really powerful moment and for people to just take that away from people is just very, very disappointing and sad.”