Metro Weekly

LGBTQ bar in New York has rainbow flags set on fire in “despicable and cowardly” act

Alibi Lounge in Harlem said that "bigger, brighter, bolder" flags would be installed

Photo: Alyssa Paolicelli / Twitter

An LGBTQ bar in New York City was the scene of a “despicable and cowardly” act after two rainbow flags outside the bar were set on fire.

The incident took place in the early hours of Saturday morning at Alibi Lounge in Harlem — the only black-owned LGBTQ lounge in NYC, NBC News reports.

The bar’s Pride festivities were in full swing when the fires were set, according to police.

Alexi Minko, who owns the bar, put out the fires by stamping on them, aided by rain in the city which prevented the flames from spreading or injuring anyone.

A rally was held Saturday afternoon to support the bar, and Minko said the bar’s neighbors had “expressed their indignation, their support. The gay community is behind us.”

Minko said the bar’s security cameras captured a man setting fire to the flags and that he believes the suspect used an accelerant to aid the fire, given the rain.

He promised that “bigger, brighter, bolder flags” would replace the burned ones, which were removed by police for evidence.

The original flags — Photo: Alibi Lounge / Twitter

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) slammed the fires in a statement on Saturday.

“I am disgusted by the burning of a Pride flag outside an LGBTQ bar in Harlem early yesterday morning,” Cuomo said. “This was a despicable and cowardly act made worse by the fact it happened on the eve of Pride month.

Cuomo said there was “no place for hate in New York,” and said those responsible for the “repugnant behavior must be held accountable.”

The governor has directed the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to “immediately proved the NYPD with any resources needed to assist in an investigation of this incident.”

He added: “Rather than divide New Yorkers, this despicable act will only strengthen our commitment to tolerance, equality and justice for every individual.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand added her support for Alibi Lounge in a tweet, saying such acts won’t stop the progress of LGBTQ rights.

“Disgusting acts of bigotry and cowardice cannot, and will not, intimidate our LGBTQ community or roll back decades of progress,” Gillibrand wrote. “In solidarity with you, @lounge_alibi. Keep celebrating #PrideMonth.”

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's online editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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