Monmouth police are looking into what they’re calling a hate crime after someone burned a man’s rainbow flag.
“Some of us are out, some of us are in the closet, but we are people,” said Duwayne Brooks, who remembers very clearly, the day he bought the rainbow flag placed on his deck.
It was on a trip to Chicago for the Gay Pride parade.
“We did some shopping and we went into a shop and I saw it and I’d always wanted one and I bought it,” said Brooks.
But, Tuesday morning, when he opened his blinds … “I looked out and I saw the flag and I looked and I thought ‘Wow, my flag somehow caught on fire.”
The fire spread to his wood deck, resulting in a charred, black spot.
“More than anything I was hurt,” he said. “I was sad and I was hurt.”
Because of the nature of this crime police have classified it as a hate crime.
Neighbors say they can’t believe something like this happened so close to home.
“Why would you destroy someone else’s property to begin with, let alone a flag,” said Donna Stokes.
Brooks doesn’t know, either.
“If they were out being stupid, or whatever, it wasn’t the community speaking, it was a few ignorant people.”
Ironically enough, his life’s mission is advocating for diversity training in the workplace.
“I’ve spent the last quarter of my career trying to help people become and be more sensitive to each other and then this happens in my town, but it happens to me.”
But, Brooks says this one, isolated incident isn’t representative of his community as a whole.
“In this town, we care about each other. I’d like to think that now I’m more sure than ever that people care.”
Brooks says he plans to purchase a new flag.
But, he’ll still keep the old one and frame it.
Meanwhile, Monmouth police are asking for anyone with information, to call them at (309) 734-8383 or Warren County Crimestoppers at (309) 734-9363.