Community gathers after Pacifica school's pride flag burned, as hate crimes rise across CA

ByTim Johns via KGO logo
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
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A vigil was held at Sunset Ridge Elementary School in Pacifica Tuesday after a suspect stole a pride flag from the school grounds, leaving it burned.

PACIFICA, Calif. (KGO) -- A show of solidarity Tuesday afternoon for the Sunset Ridge Elementary School in Pacifica.

Earlier this month, someone stole a pride flag from the school grounds. A few days later it showed up again, tattered and burned. Police say it's now being investigated as a hate crime.

"When I heard about it happening in my community, I literally, I shed tears. It's sad," said Pacifica Mayor Mary Bier.

The incident has sent shockwaves through this small, but close community.

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Annya Shapiro has two daughters who attend the school.

"One of the reasons why we came to Sunset Ridge was because of the diversity at the school, and the inclusivity, and the ways that the kids are supported," Shapiro said.

But instances like these aren't just happening in Pacifica.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta said reported hate crimes across the state rose around 33% last year.

The increase in attacks seen against nearly all minority groups including Blacks, Asians and the LGBTQ+ community.

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"Reported hate crimes have reached a level we haven't seen in California since the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11," Bonta said.

Back in Pacifica, local leaders say the rise in reported hate crimes makes events like Tuesday's even more important.

"The sooner we can implement more and more resources, and the sooner community comes together and we have these really critical conversations, can we move forward," said Kassi Talbot of Coast Pride.

A way to fight back, while also remembering that instances like these don't reflect the whole community.

"We're going to continue to bond together in unity like this to let know that those that try to do this, that we don't accept that here," said Dana Johnson, the San Mateo County LGBTQ Commissioner.

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