Watch: South Dakota Man Seeks Charges in Burning of Pride Flag

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday July 30, 2020

Watch: South Dakota Man Seeks Charges in Burning of Pride Flag
  (Source:Screen cap / KELO)

A South Dakota man who says his Pride flag was torched is seeking charges in the case, but state law does not extend protections when it comes to intimidation and harassment driven by anti-LGBTQ bias, reports local news channel KELO.

The flag burning took place in Webster, South Dakota. Resident Troy Kriech put up a rainbow banner, and says that another resident of the town, Darrin Pesall, stole the flag from his home and torched it.

Pesall posted a Facebook live video of himself burning a Pride flag and hurling anti-LGBTQ invective, KELO reported.

The video is no longer available, but the news station broadcast a few seconds of footage from the video in which the flag is set alight as Pesall can be heard screaming, "Right there, now that's a [expletive] flag that deserves to [expletive] burn!"

Adds Pesall: "Burn, burn, burn, you queer [expletive]!"

Kreich said he was "disgusted" at the slur-filled video, "especially coming from somebody that I know - that would actually do something that hateful and disgusting."

KELO sought comment from Day Contry State Attorney Danny Smeins, who said that the flag's burning was covered under the state's hate crime law - though Smiens references the law not pertaining to "gender," when the issue at hand was sexual orientation.

KELO investigated the state's hate crimes law and reported that:

...the state's law against malicious intimidation or harassment does not apply to sexual orientation, even though the South Dakota Attorney General's website lists it as a hate crime.

Pesall compared the flag's burning to protestors "tearing down war monuments" and "the controversy over the Confederate flag," the media reports said.

"Symbols of anti-Christian behavior, I do not believe should be flown in public," Pesall opined.

The hate crime argument aside, Smiens told the media that there was cause for prosecution:

"The potential crime here is the actions of Mr. Pesall — the crime might be the potential theft of the flag from someone else's residence in town, as well as destruction of somebody else's property."

Pesall denied that the flag he burned belonged to Kreich.

Watch the KELO news clip below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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