Pride flag arson suspect arrested in New York

Emma Powys Maurice July 10, 2019
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A 20-year-old Manhattan man has been arrested for the two incidents of arson (@alibiharlem/Instagram)

Police have arrested a man suspected of setting fire to Pride flags on two separate occasions outside New York’s only black-owned gay bar.

The suspect is a 20-year-old male who lives in Manhattan. He has been charged with two counts of criminal mischief as a hate crime and two counts of arson, occurring on May 31 and July 8.

The rainbow flags were found burning at the entrance of Alibi Lounge nightclub in Harlem, New York. The club’s owner, Alexi Minko, said he was “in shock” to see it happen a second time, and questioned the timing of the incidents.

“I have to say that what I find odd was the timing of both events,” he told NBC. “One was at the beginning of Pride and one was right at the end. One has to wonder if there’s a kind of message they’re trying to send.”

On both occasions the suspect was caught on CCTV. The incidents attracted considerable media coverage, and New York governor Andrew Cuomo assigned a task force to investigate.

The NYPD released the CCTV footage to the public in hopes that it would encourage witnesses to come forward. They announced the arrest of a 20-year-old man in a tweet on Tuesday (July 9).

“It brings a sense of resolution and serves as a cautionary tale to anyone thinking of doing something similar not only to us, but to anyone who thinks of targeting anyone else for reasons of gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity,” Minko told The Daily Beast.

“It is also a reminder that we live in a civilised world and more often than not you get the resolution you deserve. We’re really relieved to put this behind us and just move forward.”

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