June 9, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
A pride banner was allegedly ripped down from outside a Forest Hills church last weekend and several Queens lawmakers have condemned the incident.
The hateful act took place between 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at The Church-in-the-Gardens, located at 50 Ascan Ave., according to police.
The rainbow banner was hanging across the front entrance of the church to celebrate pride month before it was torn down by an unidentified suspect, or suspects, and then dumped inside a nearby trash can, police said. It was not damaged and was found by a resident Saturday evening, cops said.
Police say they received a complaint about the incident Wednesday and an investigation is currently being carried out by the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force.
The banner has the phrase “A Just World For All” emblazoned across it and was produced by the United Church of Christ, a mainline Protestant Christian denomination which has around 5,000 churches around the U.S. The Church-in-the-Gardens is part of the United Church of Christ.
Congresswoman Grace Meng, State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi, and Council Member Lynn Schulman released a joint statement Thursday blasting the alleged culprit.
“This was a display of cowardice, and a reminder that we cannot let up in the fight for equality,” the statement reads.
“We are proud to represent a community that celebrates all of our LGBTQ+ neighbors – who make up our elected representatives, community leaders, advocates, friends and people of all walks of life.”
Local residents also denounced the incident and took to Facebook to convey their feelings.
“A terrible action that clearly does not reflect the sentiments of our community,” wrote one poster.
That’s disgusting! My daughter and I went past earlier on Saturday and commented on how great the church [was to] put the pride colors on display,” wrote another. “It showed support and inclusion. And it’s so narrow-minded of someone to have done this.”
According to published reports, the church plans on ordering a new flag and erecting it at the same spot, although at a higher elevation.
Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at http://crimestoppers.nypdonline.com/ or on Twitter @NYPDTips.
All calls are strictly confidential.
This act has inspired the First Presbyterian Church of Forest Hills to put up a rainbow flag above the entry door to its sanctuary, in solidarity with The Church in the Gardens and as an ally of LGBTQ persons.