SALT LAKE CITY — Pride Month is all about love, but sadly this week, Utah's LGBTQ+ community has been battling hate.
Megan Keate’s neighborhood was hit with hate Thursday; thieves and vandals came to Gailey Park and stole every Pride flag and snapped multiple poles, she said.
"It was really intentional and didn't feel like a prank," said Keate. "It felt really intentional and hateful.”
Not only is this theft and vandalism hateful, but it can be charged as a hate crime, according to lawyer and Salt Lake City Councilman Chris Wharton.
“That's kind of the nature of hate crimes," he said. "What the intent of hate crimes is to do is to slowly make people feel unsafe through these types of acts, so it's really important that people report them when they happen.”
Within hours after Keate filed a police report, she raised enough money to replace all the stolen flags in Gailey Park.
“We're going to keep proving that love wins and that our voices are louder," she said. "Love is louder than hate that anybody could spew.”
Roberto Lopez with Project Rainbow has noticed more flags being stolen and damaged in Utah this year.
“A lot of these people that are vandalizing these flags are trying to bury the idea that we are here, but we are here, and we're here to stay," he said. "We're everywhere. And no matter how many flags they damage, no matter how many flags they steal, we're just going to come back even bigger next year."
Wharton said Utah’s LGBTQ+ community is continuing to fight the hate with love.
"The LGBTQ community in Utah is not going to just give up or move away," he said. "These are our friends, our neighbors, our family members. We're everyday Utahns just like anybody else in this state. And these acts of fear and intimidation are not going to stop us from continuing to live our lives authentically and push for equal rights under the law.”