A Tulsan is in shock after someone sets their non-binary pride flag on fire, then ran off.
Now the Fire Department is investigating. Matthew Gibbons said nobody can read the suspect's mind or know for sure why they did it, but Gibbons believes this person had hate in their heart. Gibbons was relaxing at home Monday night until being interrupted by the sound of sirens and barking dogs.
"We saw the lights flashing through the backyard," said Gibbons. "It happened at 11 o'clock where I was getting ready to go to bed and… no I wasn't."
Gibbons ran to the front door and was greeted by a Tulsa firefighter.
"He says, ‘your flag is on fire,’" said Gibbons.
Luckily, the fire hadn't spread.
"Those things burn really hot and really fast," said Gibbons.
Investigators believe this was not an accident.
"I'm worried about, are they going to return,” said Gibbons?
Gibbons said a neighbor called the fire department around 11 Monday night to report the fire.
"Whoever you are, I just want to thank you for, you know, stepping up and helping a neighbor out,” said Gibbons.
Gibbons said the neighbor also gave a description of a suspect's car.
"It was insane. It takes a lot of effort for someone to drive by and decide, 'hey, let's stop and like set this person's personal flag on fire.' You know, who does that,” said Gibbons.
An investigator took pictures and got Gibbons' information.
"The fire department did say that they believe it was a hate crime because it was a nonbinary flag," said Gibbons.
"This person was targeted because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and under the City of Tulsa's Hate Crime Ordinance which was passed in 2019. This is a misdemeanor, and it can be investigated and prosecuted. We've encouraged them to file their complaint with the Office of Resilience which is a part of the Human Rights Department for the City of Tulsa,” said Toby Jenkins. "We're gonna make sure they have a brand-new nonbinary flag and no matter what happens to that we've got a steady stream. We can keep providing those."
Toby Jenkins with Tulsa's Equality Center said it's been years since someone reported an LGBTQ+ flag was burned but said reports of flags being stolen or vandalized are common.
"So, it's been a long time but back years ago when we first bought this property, we would have somebody get up on our roof and steal our rainbow flag and they would burn it and put it in a package and mail it to us," said Jenkins.
"I felt more violated than fearful. And all I can do is hope that something happens with these people that they wake up to some level of love for humanity because obviously, this was not a demonstration of love," said Gibbons.
Gibbons is grateful to the firefighters and said they were extremely supportive, informative, and kind from the second they arrived until they left.