Homophobe who burned a Pride flag during a furious hate-filled anti-gay rant did not commit a hate crime
A homophobe in South Dakota who went on a profanity-heavy anti-gay rant while burning an LGBT+ Pride flag did not commit a hate crime.
Troy Kriech, a resident of the South Dakota small town Webster, decided to put up an LGBT+ Pride flag outside his house for the first time during Pride month.
While he was a little nervous about his community’s reaction to the flag, according to local news site Keloland, he could never have imagined that one of his neighbours would respond so hatefully.
Shortly afterwards, a Facebook live video was put up by fellow Webster resident Darrin Pesall.
In the video he can be seen burning a rainbow Pride flag and shouting: “Your f**king flag that deserves to burn, burn, burn, burn you queer sons of b***hes.”
Kriech said: “I was just disturbed, disgusted–especially coming from someone I know, that they would actually do something that hateful and disgusting.”
While Kriech wants to see Pesall charged with a hate crime, Day County State’s attorney Danny Smeins said the most that the homophobe is likely to be a misdemeanour like theft.
Smeins said: “South Dakota does not include gender protection under the hate crime statute.
“Especially it follows the equal protection clause – race, colour, creed and nation of origin – but it doesn’t include gender.”
He added: “The potential crime here is the actions of Mr Pesall – the crime might be the potential theft of the flag from someone else’s residence in town, as well as destruction of somebody else’s property.
“In addition with most crimes, it might be the cover up that is the most serious crime, and that is lying about aspects of the event.”
Pesall has admitted that he burned a flag, but denied that he took it from Kriech’s property.
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Asked about the incident, he said: “I burned a flag — not the flag that’s in question and what everyone is having such a s**t show about.”
He added that the incident “shouldn’t have been done the way it was done” and that he apologised “to the people I offended”.
Pesall said he was driven to go on the anti-gay rant and burn the Pride flag because he was “offended” by it.
He said the amount that it offended him was comparable to “the controversy over the confederate flag” and the tearing down of racist monuments.
Kriech, who has lived in Webster for 13 years but has decided to move to Minneapolis after the incident, added: “I don’t think it’s right, not only for me – but for the gay community – gay people who live in small communities who are afraid to come out.
“It’s hard to be gay in South Dakota.”