Hope RCMP are looking into a serious spate of alleged hate crimes in Hope, just days into the community’s first Pride festival.
Both the RCMP and the Hope Fire Department were called to the Hope Community Services (HCS) building early Thursday morning (June 8) after someone threw a rock through the HCS office window and tried to set fire to their Pride flag hanging in the window.
This act of vandalism — which Hope RCMP are considering a hate crime — was followed by another one. The Hope and Area Transition Society’s (HATS) Rainbow crosswalk, which had just been painted Wednesday afternoon (June 7). That was spray painted last night with hateful language targeted towards the LGBTQIA2S+ community.
“The fire department was able to put the fire out. But the indication now is it appeared that whoever broke the glass window was targeting a Pride flag, which was inside,” said Sgt. Mike Sargent. “There was damage as well to the crosswalk which had been painted in the colors of the Pride flag to represent Pride month. That was vandalized as well.”
In a Facebook post, HCS said that while the flag “hardly sustained any damage” the office did due to the perpetrator throwing a piece of wood, set on fire, into it. As such, their office will be closed for the next few days as they assess and repair the damage.
Robin Wells, the acting director for HCS and their Family and Early Years Program Manger, also said that, as they are a non-profit, the cost of the repairs will be taken out of HCS’s deductible — which is money meant to help people in the community.
“As far as the window, and targeting the flag and the damage, there is still an investigation ongoing. And we are looking at this as a potential hate crime,” Sargent said. “Personally, I would just like to extend my support to the whole Pride community and the community in general. Because these types of actions certainly don’t belong in our community. And it’s super disappointing that we even have to discuss this.”
Pride month in Hope kicked off last Thursday (June 1) with an opening ceremony that saw the Pride Progress flag being raised at the Hope RCMP detachment. In an afternoon full of positivity, acceptance, hope, and joy, the RCMP stated that the detachment was a safe space for everyone and that they fully support the Hope Pride Committee (who are hosting the Pride festival) and the LGBTQIA2S+ community.
The month of Pride is meant to be a celebration of acceptance and inclusitivity and a reminder of the history of the LGBTQIA2S+ community — of the struggles undergone in order for the community to obtain the rights they currently have in Canada. However, it is also an important reminder that these rights are still fragile and that much work is still needed to be done, despite the progress made.
While the RCMP are still investigating, a moment of solidarity was shown this morning with Hope locals heading down to Park Street (where the Rainbow crosswalk is located) in support of the LGBTQIA2S+ community.
“I am happy to report that members of the local community, more specifically some of the students from the local high school (Hope Secondary School) got together and have since repaired the damage to the crosswalk,” Sargent said. “The majority of the Hope community is totally supportive of its Pride community. And it’s sad that one individual has to ruin it for everybody else.”
Anyone with information or video is asked to contact the Hope RCMP at 604-869-7750. And, should you wish to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).