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Murray neighborhood bands together for nonbinary teen after triple pride flag vandalism

Posted at 9:33 PM, Jun 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-17 15:59:22-04

MURRAY, Utah — A raft-type floaty full of kids raced down a Slip 'N Slide, screams filling the air.

Bubbles poured out of a machine, piling up along the slide, and at the end. The kids disappeared into the white, foamy cloud. The raft came to a stop, and one-by-one, each child popped up, covered in foam and laughing.

A group of parents stood nearby, watching the fun. They banded together to create a neighborhood bubble Slip 'N Slide, to help all the youngsters beat the heat.

It's clear this tight-knit group in Murray loves collaborating for the sake of their kids.

Naomi Howa, one of those parents, was telling a story to the group as they stood next to the pile of bubbles.

Read - Kaysville police investigating hate crime after pride flag burned, derogatory note left behind

"We ended up filing a police report," she said. She was catching them up on the latest neighborhood event-- something she and her neighbors caught on camera late Monday night.

"They parked here, and then... one went over to Rachel’s and two came here," Howa said, pointing around her. "One of them snagged the big banner... and then one of them grabbed the flag, and then they ran all back to the car and took off."

Surveillance video shows thieves hitting a few of the homes, stealing pride flags hanging from porches.


"It's been hit a couple of times," neighbor Jennifer Auwerda explained. "We've put the flags up and in the middle of the night, some teenagers come and rip them down."

Read - Cache County school officials call removal of pride flag 'disrespectful'

The first time it happened, Howa said, they figured it was a one-time thing. But then it happened a second time. And then a third.

"It definitely feels like we're being targeted. A little bit of having the house get hit so repeatedly, and it's disheartening," Howa said.


Especially when you meet the person all the flags are flying for-- 13-year old Bridget Huddlestone, Howa's nonbinary child.

"And we just wanted to band together as a community to show our love and support to Bridget," Auwerda said.

Bridget came out to their family last year, and since then has received a lot of love from their family and neighborhood. That part has been great, Bridget indicated.

"It felt really good being able to be like, 'Oh my family supports me,'" they said.

That good feeling extended to being able to celebrate Pride Month for the first time this year. Bridget hung a pride flag in front of their family's home in early June.

But soon after, that flag disappeared.

So, Howa ordered another to hang up and other neighbors joined in with more flags.

And then those ones disappeared, from Bridget's home and several others.

Read - Utah woman receives handwritten apology and new LGBTQ+ Pride flag from person who tore it down

Undeterred, they hung up a third round of flags all over the neighborhood.

Which are the ones that went missing Monday night-- with video evidence showing a person or people running around the neighborhood, ripping the flags down home-by-home. They drove up in a car and drove away after the snatch-and-dash incident.

"It definitely didn't feel too good, like, 'Oh someone's trying to like go out of their way to make my day worse,'" Bridget said. "It's just weird."

Howa called Murray Police, after the person who tore down one of the flags damaged the area of the porch the flag was secured to. They will now have to pay to get the porch fixed. Murray Police confirmed the investigation to Fox 13, including the fact that this could be a hate crime.

They're hoping to identify who is going around repeatedly stealing the flags.

Despite being targeted three times, Bridget and their neighbors aren't letting this get their spirits down.

The parents are doing what they do best: Banding together for the kids.

Around Bridget's house, several other houses are waving new pride flags, with rainbow pinwheels spinning in the grass. Bridget's porch columns are wrapped in rainbow paper, with a giant "PRIDE" banner hanging down.

"There's a new flag being handed to us from one neighbor, and a potted plant from another neighbor with rainbows all on it," Howa explained. "And it just escalated from there, of all the pinwheels." Bridget added with a smile, "Jen, our neighbor, went crazy. She was like buying flags handing them out to people."

Auwerda bought over 60 pinwheels, and 20 flags to distribute.

Bridget is now surrounded by an even bigger display of love and support.

"We started with one flag," Howa said. "It has grown, a lot," Bridget added. "I think Pride is just all-encompassing of like loving each other and accepting everybody for exactly how they were made," Howa continued. "It should be a time to just like be yourself without being feared of being judged," Bridget said.

"And we love that message," Howa echoed, adding, "And that's why we celebrate Pride."