‘A sorry situation’ | Local News
WENHAM – A group of community leaders, including the Chief of Police and the Chairman of the Select Board, want the public to know that anyone who flew two pride flags outside the First Church and the Wenham Museum on the weekends -end last does not represent city values.
“It is important for the community and the public to know that this is a great place to live and work,” Police Chief Kevin DiNapoli said at a press conference Tuesday outside the police station.
The department is still investigating to identify the person responsible for taking the flags outside the two buildings late Friday or early Saturday.
This was the second time flags – a pride flag outside the church and a progress flag, which is seen as an updated and more inclusive flag recognizing several marginalized groups, outside from the museum – had been removed from the buildings since May.
Select board chairman Catherine Harrison called the thefts a “sad situation” and something she found “disappointing and a little surprising” in the city.
While acknowledging that so far the police have no solid leads, DiNapoli said his officers “are taking this very seriously and are investigating in any way they can.”
DiNapoli was asked if hate crime charges could be prosecuted. It’s not clear at this point if they could be, but the culprits would likely face minimum theft charges.
“It’s never okay to steal anything from anyone and obviously now with the times we live in it’s a very emotional event for a lot of people,” said DiNapoli. “It’s really impacting a lot of people because of what’s been stolen, and we don’t take that lightly.”
Reverend Judy Proctor, pastor of Wenham First Church, pointed to the road to the church. “The flag that we fly over there across the street is really important to us,” said Proctor. “It’s a symbol of who we are. We want to be open and compassionate to everyone, especially LGBTQ people.”
Proctor said she would be open to a dialogue with the culprits if and once identified, calling it “sad” that some people felt the need to steal the flag.
“I’m not sure what they’re trying to accomplish,” Proctor said.
But the thefts helped galvanize the community, she said. “The community really came together for us,” said Proctor.
Wenham Museum executive director Kristin Noon said she was disappointed and dismayed by the theft, the second since spring in the small museum, which she calls “a welcoming and inclusive environment for all people and all families “.
“It doesn’t really reflect the values of Wenham or our organization,” Noon said. She said replacement flags ordered by a member are on their way and the museum will continue to fly the flag.
Noon said the museum is also working with police to examine surveillance footage which they hope will provide clues.
Anyone with incident information or video can reach the department at 978-468-4000.
Court reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at [email protected]s.com or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.