By Nicole Bode
DNAinfo Senior Editor
WEST VILLAGE — In a brazen display of anti-gay sentiment, a rainbow flag was set on fire and taped to the front of an LGBT Community Center before dawn on Wednesday, police said.
The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is looking into the incident outside the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center of New York City on West 14th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, police said. The incident happened at 12:30 a.m., a police spokeswoman said.
Center officials said their surveillance camera captured an image of the perpetrator, but they said they’re waiting for police permission to release it for fear of compromising the investigation.
“It’s definitely powerful, especially when you see the burned flag,” said Jeffrey Klein, spokesman for the center, who added that staff and the community were “shocked that this would happen in New York.”
Klein said the flag didn’t belong to the center and must have been carried there by the perpetrator. He said the flag was discovered around 8 a.m. Wednesday, taped to a poster announcing upcoming events at the center. Police responded immediately, Klein said.
Community Board 2, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Congressman Jerrold Nadler condemned the flag burning Thursday and urged those with information to contact the NYPD tips line at 800-577-TIPS.
“This desecration can not and will not be tolerated,” Community Board 2 chairwoman Jo Hamilton wrote in a statement.
Klein said the center was focusing its attention on their members, trying to reassure them that they are not in danger.
“We want to assure the community that this is still a safe place, and we will not allow this,” he said.