Yakima Pride donates new Pride flag to CWU students after theirs was stolen, burned
New Pride flag delivered at healing chalk art event Friday
ELLENSBURG, Wash. — Yakima Pride representatives delivered a new Pride flag to Central Washington University on Friday after learning their flag had been stolen and burned in an apparent hate act against the LGBTQ+ community.
“It’s hurtful. It’s symbolic. It’s hateful, but we are resilient and we support each other,” Yakima Pride Vice President Joshua Hastings said.
Yakima Pride delivered the new flag at a queer chalk art event Friday afternoon outside Black Hall, where students gathered to share messages like, “They cannot stop our Pride,” “Love will always win,” “Everyone deserves to feel safe,” “You will not erase us,” and “Love is a terrible thing to hate.”
“We just want to make sure that we’re there and standing in solidarity with them,” Yakima Pride President Cristina Ortega said.
According to a statement issued Thursday by CWU President Jim Wohlpart, someone stole the Pride flag displayed in the Student Union and Recreation Center, set it afire, filmed the incident and posted it on social media.
“We are greatly disturbed that our CWU LGBTQ+ community had to endure this violation of their identity; this act diminished all of us,” Wohlpart said in the statement.
According to a social media post by university police, the student suspected of stealing and burning the Pride flag has been arrested.
“We take these crimes very seriously and will not rest until a corrective outcome is achieved,” police said in the post. “This is another example of how we depend on the support and trust of our community to achieve a safe and secure learning environment.”
In his statement, Wohlport called the incident an “appalling act of hate” against the LGBTQ+ community and offered resources at the university’s counseling and Diversity and Equity centers. The university has also replaced the stolen flag with another Pride display.
Wohlport said the university plans to host a “Healing Circle” event and told students details would come soon. The statement did not include information about any potential disciplinary actions the university may take against the student.
“We understand that no action we take will erase the trauma of this event,” Wohlpart said. “While we can and we do commit to addressing this issue and others in ways that protect LGBTQ+ Wildcats, we must do more to ensure that all members of our LGBTQ+ community feel welcomed, celebrated, and supported.”
An online petition asking the university to discipline the student for the incident had garnered more than 2,100 signatures as of Friday evening.
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