EQUALITY & DIVERSITY

Sandy mayor, neighbors call for end to recent pattern of Pride flag thefts

Jun 7, 2023, 10:21 PM | Updated: 11:05 pm

SANDY, Utah — Sandy’s mayor and residents are calling for a recent pattern of Pride flag thefts to stop around the city and Salt Lake Valley.

On Wednesday, Mayor Monica Zoltanski said she wasn’t sure of the exact number of thefts but was concerned by several recent posts on apps like Nextdoor as well as experiences from numerous residents.

“I started to notice over the past few days a lot of reports of the theft of the rainbow flag,” Zoltanski told KSL TV. “It’s not a proud moment for us as a community, and it’s embarrassing, frankly, and I don’t want to see it in Sandy.”

Zoltanski said she installed a Pride flag in her yard in solidarity.

“I put this up today as one more flag, and I think many people are also adding their flags to their porches and front yards like I am as a means of support,” she said.

On Autumn Ridge Drive, Rebecca Christianson said putting up Pride flags has become something of a tradition in the neighborhood during Pride Month, which extends through the end of June.

“I super love the idea of showing up with love and just recognizing that we are all equal,” Christianson said.

Still, she said those who organized the display of flags on her street said nearly a third had already been stolen, including nine flags on the first night. Christianson said two flags were stolen from in front of her house Friday and captured by her surveillance cameras.

“A younger teenager kid jumps out of the back of the Jeep,” Christianson described as she reviewed the footage. “(The teenager) is kind of panicked and trying to get a flag stuffed in the back because another car is coming.”

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Sandy wasn’t the only city to experience thefts of Pride flags. Unified police confirmed officers recovered 25 stolen Pride flags on June 2 during a traffic stop involving three teens in Holladay. A spokesperson said the matter was being referred to juvenile court.

“I think it’s kind of hitting the entire Wasatch Front all at once,” said Aaron Dekeyzer, a Sandy resident whose Pride flag was also recently stolen from his property.

“It does send a message of disrespect and disillusion that is not part of our community’s values,” Dekeyzer added.

Christianson agreed, saying the message was hurtful even if the thefts boiled down to teenage pranks.

“Stealing the flags—it’s not funny,” Christianson said. “It feels very confrontational and demeaning.”

Zoltanski urged those who experience thefts in her city to report them to police, noting that they can and will be prosecuted and could rise to the level of a hate crime depending on the circumstances. She also called for the thefts to simply stop.

“It really chills the community atmosphere we’re known for in Sandy,” Zoltanski expressed. “It’s a really welcoming atmosphere.”

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Sandy mayor, neighbors call for end to recent pattern of Pride flag thefts