Three teens arrested for allegedly tearing down & burning a Pride flag

Three teens arrested for allegedly tearing down & burning a Pride flag

Three boys — two 15-year-olds and a 14-year-old — have been arrested after police obtained a video showing them burning a Pride flag that they tore down from a house.

The unnamed teenage boys — who made derogatory anti-LGBTQ+ remarks as they burned the flag — could face misdemeanor charges of theft, simple criminal damage to property, and hate crimes.

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This couple organized their small town’s first Pride to make it safer for their growing family

Their small town hadn’t had Pride in over a decade, and they realized that queer kids growing up in the area needed support.

Stephanie Cooke was at home in Mandeville, Louisiana near New Orleans when a neighbor knocked on her door to tell her he’d discovered her Pride flag burned in the street outside her house.

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“I was scared,” Cooke said of the incident on May 26. “I think over the past month, I’ve been consistently afraid and uncomfortable.”

She called the vandalism “pointed and violent.”

The St. Tammany Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of three Mandeville teenagers on Tuesday. The teens have been released to their guardians with an agreement to appear in court, according to the sheriff’s office. 

Cooke told WWL News 4 she hasn’t seen the flag-burning video and doesn’t want to. She also said she and her two roommates don’t plan to press charges.

“Ultimately, I don’t think it matters if it was kids, teenagers, or grown adults. Hate is hate,” said Cooke.

But “since they are teenagers,” she added, “I hope they’re catching it young enough that their families can say, ‘We don’t do that, this isn’t right.’”  

Cooke said she did receive an apology from the grandmother of one teen, who offered to pay to replace the burned Pride standard. 

“I told her if she wanted to, she could make a donation to like a queer organization,” Cooke said.

The vandalized flag was replaced the very same day it was torn down, thanks to members of the Northshore queer community, Cooke said. A week later, Moore marched alongside them in the area’s inaugural Pride parade.

Cooke said the solidarity and public displays of support send a message that she and the LGBTQ+ community won’t back down in the face of threats and violence.

“We were passing out Pride flags like, ‘You burned one, here’s 50 more,’” Cooke said defiantly.

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