ELLENSBURG, Wash. — A flag that was flying at the Student Union and Recreation Center on Central Washington University's campus was stolen and set on fire Wednesday.
According to a statement from the university, the individual who committed the act posted it on social media. In the statement, the university called the incident "an appalling act of hate against the LGBTQ+ community."
The statement also shows their next steps in a healing process for university staff and students.
"For faculty, staff and students who would like to join us in deepening our response to this incident, please watch for an opportunity to join an "Healing Circle," CWU leaders wrote in the statement.
According to the Central Washington University Police, a suspect has been taken into custody. In a Facebook post from the university police, they wrote "we take these crimes very seriously and will not rest until a corrective outcome is achieved."
The police also thanked the community in the post for all the information and tips that helped them investigate.
There was a petition made on Change.org to call for consequences for the individual.
The petition included a statement that was sent to the superintendent:
"Free speech while important does not excuse this behavior. At best, this is destruction of Central Washington University property and at worst is a blatant hate crime. I believe that everyone should have the right to express their beliefs without consequences but the second that they attack a minority group in such a violent way, I do believe that it is the responsibility of Central Washington to provide consequences for these actions. As Central has been deemed, “one of the best schools for LGBTQ+ students” I truly urge you to stick up for the LGBTQ+ students who have felt attacked and degraded by (Redacted) actions.
Burning of the Pride flag has led to court convictions such as arson in the third degree as well as harassment in the third degree due to it being a hate crime. While I am not asking for this to be pursued in a court of law, I am asking that there are academic consequences for this action, be it removal of scholarship money, suspension, or expulsion. This is a heinous act and there must be consequences for his actions if this school wants to promote a safe environment for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity."