A rainbow flag hanging from a fence at the Pasadena Buddhist Temple was burned and burned, and police are investigating the incident.
“We’re taking it very seriously because it’s an act of hate,” said Gregory Gibbs, the temple’s resident pastor. “We try to be peaceful and accepting, but now we will have to be more cautious.”
Gibbs said the hand-painted pride flag was made by local artisans and has been on display at the temple for the past few years.
He said the burned remains were found by people at the temple on Tuesday morning. As they were cleaning, a neighbor told them she had put out the fire with a garden hose around 7 p.m. Monday, but no one had lit the fire.
The burned pride flag was placed on the wire fence with the Black Lives Matter flag still intact. Also unharmed were another rainbow flag and the Black Lives Matter flag, which hung high above the temple’s wooden gate.
“It didn’t seem like anything else in the neighborhood burned that night,” Gibbs said, “so this appears to be an act of direct hate against LGBTQ people, possibly also against LGBTQ people,” Gibbs said. with Buddhists.”
About two-thirds of the Buddhist community at the temple is Japanese-American, Gibbs said. He said people who frequent the temple don’t know if the flag was burned just because they support the LGBTQ+ community “or because most of us are Japanese, or they simply didn’t burn the Black Lives Matter flag, and they just hate us because we support anyone who is marginalized or oppressed.”
rainbow flag was burned more than two weeks after an unidentified man visited the temple complaining about both flags and demanding they be taken down, Gibbs said. He said people at the temple had a video of the man arriving on April 6 and they shared it with the police.
Lieutenant Monica Cuellar, a spokeswoman for Pasadena police, said police are treating the incident as vandalism and arson and are investigating it as a possible hate crime. She urged anyone with information on the man complaining about the flags to contact police.
Gibbs said he hopes the temple’s board members will decide to fly another pride flag to replace the one that was burned.
“We’re certainly not going to reverse our position,” Gibbs said. “We will not change our policy because someone committed some dangerous vandalism to our temple and showed hate. We will continue as we did.”