RCMP are investigating after two gay pride flags were burned in a parking lot during Fort McMurray's first gay pride event.
Approximately 100 people had gathered at Bailey's Pub in the northern Alberta city Saturday night for a night of karaoke and drag performances, when two rainbow flags went missing shortly after 11 p.m., reports Fort McMurray Today.
Witnesses say they saw several individuals burn the flags in the parking lot outside the pub.
“It’s not just burning a piece of fabric,” Michael Kenny, vice president of the LGBTQmunity, a local pride group, told Fort McMurray Today.
“It’s a symbol and destroying it in that fashion is something I see as a hate crime.”
According to the CBC Eyeopener, security cameras from a nearby hotel captured the incident on video and police are now reviewing the footage.
“I can’t say why they did it and I can’t say if it was hate fueled,” Sheldon Parsons, president of the LGBTQmunity, told the Edmonton Journal.
“But it’s hurtful to see something like that," Parsons continued, adding that the city has become more accepting of the LGBTQ community in recent years and this incident is a disappointing setback.
This was the first large-scale pride event of its kind to be held in the oilsands capital. Kenny told the Journal he hopes one day to hold a gay pride parade similar to larger cities across Canada.
"It's sad, but it's not a reflection on Fort McMurray as a whole; it's a reflection on some, kind of, maybe a little bit backwards individuals living in Fort McMurray," Kenny told the Eyeopener, adding he hopes to see those responsible for the act charged.
According to the LGBTQmunity's Facebook page, the group filed a report with RCMP Monday morning.
Check out reaction from the community in the slideshow below