WENHAM — For the second time since May police are looking for the culprits behind the thefts of Pride and Progress flags from two locations in Wenham over the weekend.
The rainbow Pride flag that had been raised at the First Church to replace one that was stolen last May was cut down late Friday or early Saturday, police said. The police also learned that the Progress flag, which is considered to be an updated and more inclusive flag acknowledging multiple marginalized groups, had been cut away from a pole at the Wenham Museum.
Jane Bowers of the Wenham Museum said a receptionist who was at the museum Saturday sent her a text message about the latest theft.
The flag had been torn or cut at the grommets that were holding it to the pole.
After their first Pride flag and staff were stolen last month, Bowers said she used zip ties and security screws to attach the new one to a new pole.
"This time they tore the fabric away from the grommets," said Bowers.
"It's just so disappointing," said Bowers. "I think it's just somebody who is an angry person. Who else is a bully like that?"
Still, Bowers said, "As aggravated as I am, I feel more sad for that person, that they feel the need to intimidate or upset other people who express inclusive values."
Anna Siedzik of the Human Rights Coalition said the incidents are "really disappointing."
Just weeks ago, more than 400 people turned out at the Patton Homestead for the first Hamilton Wenham Pride Picnic, organized by the year-old Hamilton-Wenham Human Rights Coalition.
"For us it just shows how much the community was longing for an event like that," said Seidzik.
In a press release, police Chief Kevin DiNapoli said, “There simply is no place for any activity of this type in Wenham, and we stand with the LGBTQ members of our community."
Later in an interview, DiNapoli called the multiple thefts "horrible."
DiNapoli, who sits on the Wenham Human Rights Committee, said the towns have a "good network" of support.
The crimes, he said, do not reflect the community's feelings about inclusiveness. "Unfortunately this is something we've got to deal with," said DiNapoli. "You like to think it's going to go away, but some people just have a problem with acceptance."
DiNapoli said that his detectives unit is actively investigating, looking for evidence such as doorbell camera video or other security footage that could lead to a suspect or suspects. They've also stepped up patrols in the areas.
He urges anyone with information about the incidents to call the department at 978-468-4000.
After Bowers posted about the theft on her personal Facebook page, she got a call from a museum supporter, who has already ordered two Progress flags to replace the stolen one.
If one of those is stolen, she'll just put up the other one, Bowers said.
"We were only going to have it up for Pride Month," said Bowers. "But now, we want to leave it up."
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.