A vandal tore a pride flag down from a Bay Ridge storefront and burned it on the sidewalk, and a local advocacy group is searching for the culprit.
Locals found the flag outside of the former location of Catrina’s Mexican Grill on 3rd Avenue between 73rd and 74th streets on April 8.
“This comes at a time of heightened trans and queer-phobic rhetoric across the country, all of which is unwelcome in our hood,” advocacy group Fight Back Bay Ridge said online. “All of our neighbors deserve to feel safe in our streets.”
LJ Vogel, co-director of Gay Ridge, says that while the queer support group was disappointed to hear about the vandalism, he personally was not surprised.
“Many people think of Brooklyn as a melting pot and a place of acceptance but I think it is time for us to reckon with the fact that south Brooklyn has regressed and become a place where people are afraid of anything they don’t understand and intolerant of things they don’t personally believe in,” he told Brooklyn Paper.
According to Vogel, violence for queer Brooklynite seems to be getting worse instead of better despite the groups efforts.
“We clearly have a long way to go if our neighbors are taking to vandalizing property to send a message of intolerance and hate. What is most important to me at this time is that our allies in the neighborhood make it clear that this kind of act and the mentality behind it are not welcome here,” he said.
Gay Ridge hosts community events to promote allyship and allow locals to meet one another in safe spaces. Jason Graubard, co-director for Gay Ridge, considers the the groups work “vital” to deterring queer violence and hate.
“LGBTQIA+ people are in every neighborhood, town, city and state in this country and we have worked hard to create such a beautiful community in South Brooklyn in GayRidge,” he said. “It is extremely vital that communities like GayRidge exist to show that no person is alone and we stand together to make all spaces here in South Brooklyn a safe place accepting of all identities and cultures that stand for equality and inclusion.”
Council Member Justin Brannan also shared public comments on the event, calling it an act of queer discrimination.
“I am deeply disturbed that a pride flag was torn down and burned on 3rd Avenue in Bay Ridge this past weekend. Our whole community should reject this display of hate and bigotry in the strongest terms,” he said on Twitter.
Southern Brooklyn has their share of political disagreements, according to the council man. He says this recent incident is an example of “hateful rhetoric” increasing the marginalization of minority groups.
“If you’re like me and you grew up here always able to take your sense of safety and belonging for granted, and you somehow feel like welcoming queer and trans people, people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, or low-income families into our neighborhoods somehow comes at your expense – I urge you to examine that, and I promise you it simply isn’t true,” he said online.
Locals and elected officials – including Brannan — pushed to have the former eatery’s liquor license revoked following multiple rowdy incidents that took place at the location including the fatal stabbing of 22-year-old Anthony D’Onofrio.
According to Josephine Beckmann, district manager for Community Board 10, Catrina’s liquor license was revoked in February of this year, and the restaurant closed shortly afterward. No one else has applied for a liquor license at the 7316 Third Street address.
Fight Back Bay Ridge encourages anyone who has information on who is responsible to reach out to them online.