Pride flag torn down in 'cowardly' act, says Ottawa woman

·3 min read
Jane Harley holds the Pride flag that was torn down from her Poplar Street home on Friday night. She says more than a dozen people in the neighbourhood now plan to put up their own rainbow flags after she told them what happened. (Rachelle Elsiufi / CBC - image credit)
Jane Harley holds the Pride flag that was torn down from her Poplar Street home on Friday night. She says more than a dozen people in the neighbourhood now plan to put up their own rainbow flags after she told them what happened. (Rachelle Elsiufi / CBC - image credit)
Rachelle Elsiufi / CBC
Rachelle Elsiufi / CBC

More than a dozen residents in one Ottawa neighbourhood plan to hang Pride flags in a show of solidarity after one was torn down from a house Friday night.

Surveillance video shows two men standing in front of Jane Harley's home, one appearing to take a photo as the other walks up to her porch and rips down her rainbow flag.

The video, which Harley shared with CBC, then shows the two men running away.

"It's cowardly, and it's just a show of hate and disrespect for other people," Harley told CBC Saturday outside her home on Poplar Street, near Little Italy.

She has spoken to a community police officer about what happened, but said she hasn't yet decided to file a report.

Harley said that when she told her neighbours the news, 13 of them decided they would also hang up rainbow flags. She said she placed an order for 13 flags on Saturday, and they arrived Sunday.

She told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning on Monday that most of them are already flying on Poplar Street, and that neighbours on nearby streets plan to put up even more of them.

Submitted by Jane Harley
Submitted by Jane Harley

'An act of hatred' 

"It's certainly an act of hatred that we don't like to see in our city," said Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney after watching the video.

"Somebody ripping down a flag and running … it's not funny."

McKenney, who identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, said the arrival of the Freedom Convoy earlier this year may have left some people feeling more comfortable committing those kinds of acts.

Hateful messaging was spotted among crowds, including swastikas and other anti-Semitic imagery, and at least one Confederate flag. The Ottawa Police Service launched a hate crime hotline to investigate crimes related to the demonstrations.

"We all watched in horror in February [when] symbols of hatred came into our city. We'd never seen that before," McKenney said.

"And I think that those people have been emboldened. And I think that's what you're seeing now, is that they feel that it's OK."

While hateful acts don't happen in Ottawa on a regular basis, McKenney said it would certainly be "frightening" if one were to take place at one's own home.

Francis Ferland/CBC
Francis Ferland/CBC

Occurred during Pride Month 

Friday night's incident comes as many people across Canada are recognizing Pride Month — a time for celebrating the diversity of the LGBTQ community, while acknowledging its history, the hardships people have endured and the progress that's been made.

McKenney said the latest act of hate is another example of the importance of marking the month, and that "the fight is not over."

"There's a lot of transphobia, homophobia in the world," they said. "So to have Pride, to have people come out and celebrate, really puts out that message that the vast majority of people are, you know, accepting and loving."

For Harley, a heterosexual woman who describes herself as an ally of the LGBTQ community, she said she'll continue to hang the rainbow flag to send a clear message.

"[It's] to let your friends and neighbours know that you support them and love them."

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