An unknown vandal this weekend damaged a rainbow flag being flown outside a Boise home to celebrate Pride Week.
That incident, coupled with unconfirmed reports of white supremacist fliers placed on light poles and other objects in Downtown Boise, raises concerns about continued hate-related actions in the wake of last month’s anti-Semitic vandalism at the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, said Dan Prinzing, executive director of the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights.
With Boise Pridefest in motion, director Rodney Busbee said Pride Week is meant to celebrate all kinds of diversity, whether that be those in the LGBTQ community or people of different races and religions.
Boise police are investigating the burned flag as an incident of malicious harassment, Idaho’s hate-crime law. The damage happened sometime between 10 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. Sunday at a house on North 25th Street near Heron Street, according to a Monday news release.
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The flag’s owner, who asked not to be identified, told the Statesman she is concerned more people expressing LGBT pride will be targeted, including numerous residents who are now flying Pride flags along Harrison Boulevard. The damaged flag, which was burned, had just been put up Saturday; most of it was unscathed.
Busbee said the day before the flag burned he had posted a photo of the flag on social media and encouraged others to hang rainbow flags as well.
“It’s sad that that’s even able to happen in the North End, where you think things are safe,” Busbee said. “...Boise is so diverse and amazingly open and we do celebrate each other. This whole week is about celebrating our community.”
Two people contacted the Statesman on Monday morning to report what appeared to be white-supremacist propaganda posted near the Downtown post office, the Capitol and a nearby coffee shop. They expressed dismay at what they described as racist, hateful messages, and one reported seeing the fliers Sunday afternoon.
The Statesman was unable to confirm their reports. But by 10 a.m. Monday, two poles in that area had large, sticky areas where it appeared pieces of paper had been torn off. On top of those spots were newly affixed stickers declaring “Nationalists not Welcome” and “Anti-Fascist Action.”
On Monday, it was unclear if any such fliers had been reported to Boise police. May’s vandalism at the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial is still under investigation, police said.
Prinzing said he had heard about last weekend’s flag-burning, but not about the fliers reported Downtown.
The reports to the Statesman, he said, sound disturbingly similar to the “hate-filled rhetoric” sprawled in graffiti on the Anne Frank Memorial in early May and featured in materials distributed recently in other areas of Boise.
“We’re getting more and more occurrences,” Prinzing said. “There seems to be kind of an emboldened attitude right now.”
He said the incidents raise concerns about this week’s Pride celebration in Boise, and he described them as “a call to our community for ‘Who are we? What are we going to stand for?’ ”
Anyone with information about the burned flag is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 343-COPS (2677) or 343cops.com or to leave a tip using the “P3 Tips” app for iOS or Android.
Kristin Rodine: 208-377-6447