Richmond City Hall Raises Pride Flag, Protests Erupt

Richmond City Hall Raises Pride Flag, Protests Erupt

- in Top News, National
Photo: David Lind
Photo: David Lind

The gay pride flag caused some drama after being flown at City Hall in Richmond, Virginia for Pride Month, according to Mercury News.

Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles asked Mayor Gayle McLaughlin to fly the flag for the last few days in June for Pride Month, which commemorates the Stonewall Riots of 1969. The rainbow flag was also flown for two days in March while the U.S. Supreme Court dealt with Prop. 8 and DOMA.

Beckles’ partner, also a community advocate in McLaughlin’s office, sent out a citywide email to over 900 employees on Thursday explaining that the flag will fly to show “…support of the LGBTQ struggles and movement for recognition and equality.”

Within 24 hours, three city employees responded to the entire city email list in opposition to the flag, despite the city rules that make this only acceptable with the permission of Lindsay, his assistant, or a department head.

Antoinette Jordan, who works in the city’s adult literacy program, wrote: “Waving the gay pride flag in the city of Richmond is inappropriate. Richmond is not ‘the Castro.’ This is offensive to Richmond’s faith-based community. The USA flag is the ‘freedom flag.'”

Information technology assistant, Jacqueline McBride, also responded. In the subject line, she wrote, “Looks like another city agrees…No Offense Intended.” In the body of her email was a [Santa Rosa] Press Democrat story reporting that officials in Calistoga took down their pride flag amid outcry and legal concerns.

Library assistant Linda Cisneros wrote: “I have never seen a flag displayed for Native American Heritage month or Hispanic American Heritage month or Irish American Heritage month. Didn’t they struggle too?”

When Lindsay saw the responses, his staff sent out an email warning employees not to mass email. He decided there would be no punishments for those that didn’t comply with the city rule, but the flag will continue fly.

“I don’t see any reason to take it down,” Lindsay said. “It’s true that no one talked to me about it [Thursday], I just sort of saw it, but I think the same thoughts apply now as when it was approved in March. It’s consistent with council policy.”

However, Councilman Nat Bates, disagreed.

“The mayor determined to fly the flag, but that is something that should be determined by the [City Council],” Bates said. “Now we have a big stink. We have to be sensitive to all the people in our diverse community.”

Beckles defended the flag not only on her social media sites, but also through another email.

“I am the first and only out council member on the council, so I feel it’s my responsibility to represent this segment of our community that is STILL being discriminated against,” Beckles wrote in an email Friday.

Regardless of the bickering about the flag, it is still flying.

“The flag shows the city’s commitment to human rights at this historic moment in time,” McLaughlin said.



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