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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Burning of Pride flag denounced at Central Washington University

Parade-goers march a giant Pride Flag through downtown Spokane during the 2019 Spokane Pride Parade.  (TYLER TJOMSLAND)

Central Washington University leaders quickly condemned the theft and burning of an LGBTQ Pride flag on Thursday.

A student allegedly stole the rainbow flag from the Student Union and Recreation Center on Wednesday and set it on fire, streaming his actions on social media.

In a post on its Facebook page, the campus police department wrote that it was able to “successfully investigate and apprehend the suspect responsible.”

A university spokesperson declined to name the student or any charges filed against them, referring questions to the Kittitas County Prosecutor’s Office. The Prosecutor’s Office also declined to provide information about the case and told The Spokesman-Review to file a records request to obtain it.

University leaders, including president Jim Wohlpart, wrote in a public letter on Thursday that the incident “denigrates members of our community” and “violates our most basic values.”

“This is an appalling act of hate against the LGBTQ+ community,” the letter states.

A new Pride flag was hung at the Student Union, according to Kremiere Jackson, the university’s vice president of public affairs.

Asked if the unnamed student will face disciplinary action, Jackson said that they will go “through the student conduct process.”

An online petition, signed by nearly 2,000 people as of Friday afternoon, does not call for criminal prosecution of the student but demands “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,” the petition states.

In response to the flag burning, the university pointed students, faculty and staff to resources available at its counseling center and Diversity and Inclusion Center. It also hinted at plans to form a “healing circle,” the details of which will be released at a later date.

“We understand that no action we take can erase the trauma of this event,” the letter states.