"Gay pride" flag vandalized

March 10, 2009 4:05:23 PM PDT
State police are investigating what could be called a hate crime in one Bucks County community.For 10 years both an American flag and a gay pride flag have flown side-by-side in front of Mary Shaffer's Ferndale home, which she shares with her longtime partner Shelly Sickbert.

That's why she was understandably upset when someone stole the gay pride flag on Friday night.

She was even more upset when the flag was returned a few days later.

"I feel so sorry for someone who feels so threatened and so disempowered by the fact that I'm existing that they have to do something like this," Shaffer said.

The flag was balled up in her front yard, a giant "x" was painted on it from corner to corner. It was covered with tire marks, slashes, and it smelled strongly of urine.

Shaffer said, if this was meant to intimidate her, it didn't work.

"I wish he had the cajones to come back when it was light outside and talk with me," Shaffer said. "If he thinks this is going to make us go away, I'm buying these things in bulk now and every time one disappears, five new ones are going up, because I'm sick of this."

The flag was submitted as evidence to the state police, which will now work with the Bucks County Prosecutor's office to determine if this case will be pursued as a hate crime.

"Any time we have a complaint, any time a person's property or a person receives a threat we investigate to the fullest, and we follow where the evidence takes us," said Sgt. Steven Stinsky of the Pennsylvania State Police.

Shaffer says she's certain the evidence will not lead local investigators toward any of her neighbors who have rallied around she and Shelly since this incident came to light.

"I think we have a very peaceful neighborhood here and everybody looks out for one another and they try to take care of one another. When something like this happens, it's shame," said neighbor William Creighton.

If you know anything about this case, you're asked to call either the Pennsylvania State Police or the Bucks County Prosecutor's office.

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