Police are investigating after someone cut down the Progress Pride Flag pole outside Delta city hall early Wednesday morning (June 22).
“I am incredibly disturbed and disappointed by the actions of the vandal who tore down our Progress Pride Flag pole in front of city hall earlier this morning,” Mayor George Harvie said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.
“Hate has no place in our community and I will not tolerate it. Delta council and I stand firmer than ever with our LGBTQ2S+ community and are proud of the beautiful Pride rainbow banners that continue to stand strong all across Delta. Love will always win over hate.”
The city says the Delta Police Department has been notified about the vandalism and is currently investigating the matter.
“The Pride flag is more than a symbol for the LGBTQ2S+ community; it represents a desire for everyone to be treated equally, regardless of sexuality, race, gender identity, religion or any other label,” DPD Chief Neil Dubord said in a press release.
“The Delta Police Department is actively investigating this incident to pursue charges. In the meantime, the Pride flag continues to fly at Delta Police headquarters, and we stand with the LGBTQ2S+ community.”
The flag at city hall was raised during a ceremony on June 1 to mark the beginning of Pride Month. On hand for the occasion were representatives from the Delta Pride Society and Sher Vancouver, as well as members of council, city staff, DPD officers and Delta firefighters.
It is the fourth consecutive year that the city has held a ceremony to raise a Pride flag in support of the LGBTQ2S+ community and Pride Month, and the first time the city has flown the Progress Pride Flag — a variation of the rainbow Pride flag designed by artist Daniel Quasar in 2018 that incorporates coloured chevrons representing other groups such as people of colour, the transgender community, and those living with and lost to HIV/AIDS.
In a statement posted online, the Delta Pride Society said was “disheartened by the recent hate crime,” and encouraged residents to take this opportunity to talk with their children, neighbours and loved ones.
“Look for ways to grow, learn and support one another. Understand better the need for rainbow flags, benches and crosswalks. This is a sign that the work is not done until all are free from discrimination, inequality and hate,” the society said.
“To all those hurt by this recent hate crime, please know we are here for you. Focus on the support in this community. You matter. You are irreplaceable. You are loved.”
The society said it is grateful for the support and allyship of the City of Delta, DPD and Delta School Board, as well as the many local businesses who have purchased and displayed “All Are Welcome Here” stickers.
“Displaying a sticker shows that you are supportive of the 2SLGBTQ+ community and on a path to creating a welcoming space for all — clients, employees, neighbours.”
Stickers and window clings are available at Stir Coffee in Ladner, Bosley’s in Tsawwassen and at Four Winds Brewery.
The society also thanked the city for installing rainbow street banners across the community earlier this month. The banners — which were designed in consultation with the Delta Pride Society and the Mayor’s Task Force on Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism — incorporate both the rainbow Pride flag and Progress Pride flag and feature the words acceptance, courage, love and pride, which “reflect the lived experiences of Delta’s LGBTQ2S+ community,” according to a press release.
“I wish there was a sign of acceptance, such as these Pride banners, when I was growing up in Ladner. Maybe I wouldn’t have had to hide who I truly was for so long. Hopefully, the banners will help someone who is just realizing their true self to feel supported and accepted as a valued member of our city,” Delta Pride Society president John Darras said in a press release earlier this month.
“The rainbow street banners show our commitment to advancing inclusion and creating safe and welcoming spaces in Delta. The banners are being placed at community entrances to send a signal to everyone who walks, drives, or rides into the community, that no matter how you identify or who you love, everyone is welcome here,” Harvie said at the time.