LGBTQ students at a Virginia college have been left “hurt, saddened, and scared” after a Pride flag was stolen and replaced with two Confederate flags.
The Wesley Center at Virginia Tech, a United Methodist campus ministry, told NBC News that it has had three Pride flags stolen in the last two weeks.
However, while the first two flags were stolen, the third was replaced with Confederate flags — one at the front of the building and another at the rear — in what Wesley called an “active display of hate” that is “unacceptable and malicious” in a Facebook post.
“Early this morning, Friday August 7th, our pride flags were torn from where they have flown for years,” Wesley wrote. “This has been an ongoing issue, but today, they were replaced with hateful Confederate flags.
“As always, we strive to make Wesley a safe and affirming place for all people,” the post continued. “This hate crime goes against all that we believe, and we want our LGBTQ+ community to know that we will always love, support, and embrace you with open arms.”
Wesley urged anyone with information to contact police. Blacksburg police department confirmed to NBC News that it was investigating the theft of the flags and it had been assigned to the department’s criminal investigations unit.
Bret Gresham, Wesley’s campus minister, told NBC News that it was “an escalation when the Confederate flag was put up in its place,” adding that the college’s LGBTQ students are “hurt, saddened, and scared.”
Gresham added that students should feel they “have a safe environment to come, to live out their faith and be affirmed in who they are.”
The Wesley Center took to social media after news broke about the flags to thank those who had offered support and to remove photos it had previously uploaded of the Confederate flags.
“As we reflect on all the support that we’ve received over the past few days, we decided to remove the last post that displayed potentially harmful confederate flags,” they wrote. “Thank you for the continuing outpouring of love and support.”
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