The incident took place at Wesley Centre, a Methodist campus ministry inside the university in the state of Virginia. The pride flag was town down in what was said to be an “ongoing issue”, the ministry said in a social media post.
Flags from the centre have been stolen earlier as well, at least thrice in two weeks, reported NBC News. This time, however, the pride flags that have been put up outside the centre for the past four years were taken down and replaced with “hateful Confederate flags”, the centre said in a Facebook post on Saturday.
“As always, we strive to make Wesley a safe and affirming place for all people. This hate crime goes against all that we believe, and we want our LGBT+ community to know that we will always love, support, and embrace you with open arms,” the post said.
They are asking anyone with more information to reach out to the authorities, adding that the incident has been “traumatic and triggering” for many.
“This one was just an escalation when the Confederate flag was put up in its place,” campus minister Bret Gresham, who runs the Wesley Centre, told NBC News.
“My number one concern is the students and making sure they feel they have a safe environment to come, to live out their faith and be affirmed in who they are,” he said, adding that the school’s LGBT+ students are “hurt, saddened and scared” following the weekend’s incident.
The centre has been a target of theft in the past. Earlier in May this year, news channel WSLS-TV reported that the flags of Middle Eastern countries displayed at the centre were taken down by unknown people.
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