Man tells 7 News why he removed Gay Pride flag as LGBTQ community, lawmakers speak out

Updated: Jun. 23, 2020 at 3:20 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The Gay Pride flag flying at Watertown City Hall will fly longer. That's the city's response after a protester took it down.

The rainbow colored flag is a symbol of social equality, individuality and hope for the LGBTQ community and its supporters.

Saturday, it was raised for the second year in a row and was scheduled to fly for the weekend.

But because one protester took it down, city officials have taken steps to secure the flag to the flag pole and have chosen to have the Gay Pride flag fly for the remainder of June.

As for the man who took down the flag, Donnie Barrigar, we asked him why he would do that.

"Putting up the gay pride flag mocking God and it's mocking all the good Christians we have in our community," said Barrigar. "I'm covered under the First Amendment right. We have the right for protesting and that includes flags. So flags are covered under the First Amendment right for free speech."

Members of the LGBTQ community shared their frustrations and city officials say enough is enough.

"I don't think the LGBTQ community is going to be quiet about this," said Tyler, a member of the LGBTQ community. For his family's safety, he asked us not to use his last name.

"I do believe that there should be consequences of some sort because in my opinion it is an action of hate," he said.

Watertown officials are also speaking out about the flag's removal.

"It's just really ignorance, intolerance of one individual because he has a problem," said Mayor Jeff Smith.

Barrigar uploaded a video to his YouTube page of him taking the flag down and stuffing it into a city drop box. The video has received more than 14,000 views.

"It's just shameful that this person can't put away his personal issues and let the flag fly," said Smith. "He professes to be a Christian and part of that is accepting other people for who they are, not putting your will on to them."

The Watertown Police Department and state police are working with the Jefferson County District Attorney to determine, what, if any, charges could be brought against Barrigar.

As of Tuesday no charges have been filed. But should there be charges?

"Yeah they should. At some point enough is enough. You know, he's acting like a grade school bully and it is, it is enough. We're going to stand up to him,"said Smith.

"I really hope that the law enforcement can find something to stop him with and personally I would like to see him kept from city hall," said City Council Member Lisa Ruggiero.

"As long as we accept ourselves, one person isn't going to change it. We are going to continue to move forward. We're going to stay strong and the LGBT community, we just want acceptance, you know, we want to be who we are," said Tyler.

The LGBTQ community plans a peaceful protest Wednesday beginning at 3:30 p.m. to overshadow hate with love.

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