Police investigate vandalism of Pride flag at Calgary church

Calgary police are investigating after a Pride Flag banner on a southwest Calgary church was damaged in what they say is believed to be a possible hate crime.

Rainbow banner ripped, burned and scrawled with word ‘repent’

The Pride banner that hangs on Scarboro United Church, which is located at 134 Scarboro Avenue S.W. in Calgary, was damaged between the evening of March 25 and the morning of March 27, police said. (Submitted by Laura Maloney)

Calgary police are investigating after a Pride flag banner on a southwest Calgary church was damaged in what they say is believed to be a possible hate crime.

On Sunday morning members of the Scarboro United Church noticed the banner, which hung outside the building's doors, with the word "repent" written across it in black marker, church minister Erin Klassen told CBC News on Tuesday.

Police say it was also partially burned and ripped.

"The initial feelings were kind of shock and disappointment," Klassen said.

"But the farther out I get from it, the more frustrated and sad and angry I am about it."

Investigators said they believe the damage was done by "unknown suspects" between 9 p.m. on March 25 and 9 a.m. on March 27, and are asking anyone who noticed suspicious activity to contact police.

'Hate has no home here'

According to police, a hate crime is a criminal offence committed against a person or property which is motivated, in whole or part, by the suspect's hate, bias or prejudice toward an identifiable group.

"It appears that the damage to the church's banner and welcoming message to all individuals was motivated towards the LGBTQ2S+ community, and we continue to investigate this incident," said Sgt. Matt Messenger in a Tuesday news release.

Scarboro United Church has had affirming status for about 12 years, Klassen said, which means it has gone through a process to ensure it is "open and inclusive to folks of all gender, identity and sexual expressions."

"It points to why the work we do is important — that we still need still need to be intentional and committed to to being affirming and welcoming," she said.

Until the church can order a new sign, Klassen said its staff printed off signs that read "hate has no home here" and used them to cover up the vandalism.

"We didn't want to leave that there for people to have to look at."

With files from Colleen Underwood


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