Debbie Weiner, a co-owner of Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery on the Lower East Side, arrived to work early in the morning on October 20 and noticed something was off.
Weiner spotted something unusual about the Rainbow Flag that she and co-owner Peggy Williams have displayed in front of the bakery at 126 Rivington Street between Essex Street and Norfolk Street. But it was nothing major. She just thought the flag appeared to be a bit shorter than usual.
“I had a feeling something was not quite right,” Weiner said.
But that was not necessarily indicative of anything to her: When the Sugar Sweet Sunshine team closes the shop at night, they simply wrap the flag around its pole to shorten it for the overnight hours before unfurling it again the next day.
Weiner assumed the flag was simply wrapped around the pole and opted not to investigate any further — but suspicions really flared once her business partner and the bakery’s manager came in the following day.
“[My manager] was the one that noticed,” Weiner said. “He came back in and said, ‘Someone cut the flag. They just took scissors and sliced across it.’”
Weiner’s team believes the vandal hit the bakery at some point between Sunday evening and early Monday morning, though video surveillance cameras on site are not angled towards the flag — leaving them unable to definitively determine when it happened.
The team published a post on Instagram and Facebook showing the damaged flag and expressed disbelief that someone would bother chopping up a welcoming symbol of solidarity.
“Seriously? Do we have to bring EVERYTHING into our store at the end of the night??? Someone felt the need to slice our #pride flag off with a knife last night,” the post read. “I know in the grand scheme of what’s going on in our city these days, this isn’t monumental. We can and will get a new one but that’s not the point. It’s the WHY someone would do this that’s disturbing.”
The flag attack is not the first incident of its kind in recent memory. A man was slapped with two counts of criminal mischief and two counts of arson after he allegedly torched Rainbow Flags twice in less than two months last year at Alibi Lounge, a gay bar in East Harlem, and this past August a South Jersey man was busted by the feds for allegedly bombing the front of an LGBTQ-friendly gym in Gloucester City, New Jersey. That blast damaged a Rainbow Flag perched on a window at the gym.
Weiner said she and Williams first decided to hang the Pride Flag in a bid to stand with the LGBTQ community. The bakery’s manager and several employees are gay, Weiner said, and she has several friends in the queer community.
“We put it up like two years ago and never took it down,” she explained. “Why bother taking it down? Shouldn’t it be up all the time?”
Weiner added, “We’ll get another one.”
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