On the eve of Pride month, two rainbow flags were set on fire outside of Alibi Lounge in Harlem, a venue that prides itself on being the only black-owned LGBTQ lounge in the city.
On Friday evening the bar tweeted out an image of their burnt pride flags, saying “some a–shole set our rainbow flags on fire! It’s a hate crime! along with the hashtags #pride and #rainbowflag.
— Alibi Lounge (@lounge_alibi) May 31, 2019
The suspected hate crime occurred at around 12:15 a.m. in front of 2376 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd. Police released video footage of the act on Wednesday morning and offered up a $2,500 reward for information leading to the suspect.
WANTED for a CRIMINAL MISCHIEF in front of 2376 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd #Harlem #Manhattan @NYPD32Pct on 5/31/19 @ 12:15AM Reward up to $2500 Seen him? Know who he is?☎️Call 1-800-577-TIPS or DM us! Calls are CONFIDENTIAL! @BillPerkinsNYC @brianbenjamin @HarlemPatch pic.twitter.com/lyx76dzI1w
— NYPD Crime Stoppers (@NYPDTips) June 5, 2019
According to a report by CBS, bar owner Alexi Minko recalled the night and said, “All of a sudden someone knock on door and scream ‘fire.’… When we look out, we could see both flags completely blazing.” NBC reported that Minko stomped the flags with his feet and that the pouring rain helped put out the fire.
No one was hurt, and there was no further damage reported.
Cops are offering up to a $2,500 reward for anyone who might know who the criminal is. Along with the video, the NYPD hate crime office tweeted photographs of the flag burner.
WANTED!! Hate Crime Task Force is looking for information on the person in the video who lit PRIDE Flags on FIRE. Call 800-577-TIPS @NYPDDetectives @NYPDONeill @NYPDChiefPatrol @NYPDCommAffairs @NYPDTips @lounge_alibi @NYPD32Pct pic.twitter.com/R20EvYV38N
— NYPD Hate Crimes (@NYPDHateCrimes) June 5, 2019
Government officials have been condemning the attacks and have offered words of support to New York’s LGBTQ community via Twitter.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted his disgust for the crime and offered NYPD the assistance of the New York State Police’s Hate Crimes Task Force.
I am disgusted by the burning of a Pride flag outside an LGBTQ bar in Harlem early yesterday morning.
There is no place for hate in New York. I am directing the @NYSPolice Hate Crimes Task Force to provide NYPD with any resources needed to investigate this repugnant incident. pic.twitter.com/6MgkxmnHCk
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) June 1, 2019
Mayor de Blasio also tweeted words of encouragement, reminding New Yorkers that love is stronger than hate.
Love is stronger than hate.
Pride is stronger than fear.
LGBTQ New Yorkers won’t be intimidated by this disgusting act of bigotry.
The NYPD is investigating this hate crime and will find whoever is responsible. https://t.co/ghe81DXt5e
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) June 1, 2019
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand also condemned the attacks via Twitter and encouraged the community to keep celebrating.
Disgusting acts of bigotry and cowardice cannot, and will not, intimidate our LGBTQ community or roll back decades of progress. In solidarity with you, @lounge_alibi. Keep celebrating #PrideMonth. https://t.co/Y7nID48tLi
— Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (@gillibrandny) June 3, 2019
In an interview with NBC, Minko said the police needed the burned flags for evidence, and he has since replaced them, with “Bigger, brighter, bolder flags.”
Anyone with information about this crime should call NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). For the Spanish language, call 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). You can also directly message them with information on Twitter at @NYPDTips. All calls are confidential.