Metro Weekly

Student Charged with Hate Crime for Peeing on Pride Flag

Ohio State student Trey Samuel Fetzer faces misdemeanor charges for vandalizing a family's Pride flag and shouting homophobic remarks.

Trey Samuel Fetzer – Door webcam screenshot, via Reddit.

An Ohio State University student has been charged with a hate crime after urinating on a gay Pride flag hanging on the porch of a duplex in the Weinland Park neighborhood of Columbus.

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein announced that his office charged 20-year-old Trey Samuel Fetzer in Franklin County Municipal Court with “ethnic intimidation” — more commonly known as a hate-crime charge — as well as misdemeanor charges of criminal mischief, criminal trespass, and disorderly conduct.

“Vandalizing property and making homophobic remarks in an attempt to intimidate members of the LGBTQ+ community will not be tolerated in our city,” Klein said in a statement. “Columbus is diverse and tolerant, and we celebrate our LGBTQ+ community. Hate has no home here, and as long as I’m city attorney, we will continue to aggressively prosecute hate and bias crimes.”

Fetzer was caught by a front door webcam walking onto the porch of a home on Summit Street around 10:40 p.m. on February 8, exposing himself, and peeing on the Pride flag, according to an affidavit submitted by a detective from the Columbus Police Department.

He then banged on the doors of the duplex and yelled homophobic remarks, saying, “Fuck the gays.”

The camera footage also shows him appearing to make a vulgar gesture with his middle finger during the incident. Another young man is seen on the video filming Fetzer on his phone.

Police were first alerted to the videotape after Zoe, a transgender mother who lives at the house, posted the video online to Reddit. 

“I am asking for your help. Please help us find the individuals responsible,” she wrote in her post. “Obviously, no one was harmed, but I’m tired of being powerless. Recent legislation has only emboldened this kind of hate.”

The family also told police that Fetzer returned to their home on February 13 and attempted to apologize for his actions.

If convicted of the charges against him, Fetzer could face hundreds of dollars in fines and possible jail time according to Columbus NBC affiliate WCMH. His accomplice, who filmed the urination stunt, has not been charged.

The incident has made some residents in the Summit Street house feel uneasy.

“Honestly, I’ve been a little more anxious, I’ve been checking the camera feeds, I’ve been looking outside more, I’ve been more cautious,” Raven told Columbus CBS affiliate WBNS.

“We’re not looking for trouble, we’re not looking for a fight, but we are looking to uplift our community and be a safe space for our community,” Kieve, another resident of the duplex, told WBNS.

The number of bias-motivated crimes targeting victims for their real or perceived sexual orientation increased by 17% between 2020 and 2022, according to statistics from the FBI. Bias-motivated crimes targeting victims for their gender identity increased by 32% during that same time period.

Ohio has currently been enmeshed in a number of high-profile fights over transgender rights.

Recently, the state legislature overrode a veto by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine to impose a statewide ban on transgender athletes competing on women’s sports teams and an additional prohibition on doctors that prevents them from prescribing gender-affirming treatments to transgender minors. 

Additionally, DeWine’s administration proposed a series of regulations intended to slow-walk the approval of transition-related procedures for transgender adults to ensure people were not being rushed into pursuing medical procedures.

But those regulations were criticized for their lack of flexibility and the burden they would have placed on transgender individuals seeking out gender-affirming care. The regulations were eventually rolled back following widespread opposition during a recent public comment period.

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