As pride celebrations begin this month, a gay bar in Harlem is recovering after someone set fire to the pride flags hanging at their entrance just after midnight on Friday. Alibi Lounge owners and patrons were shocked to discover the burning flags outside the entrance.
The owner and patrons were alerted to the fire after a woman saw the flames and began pounding on the window and yelling “fire.” Owner Alexi Minko and some patrons ran outside to put out the small fire. Minko told NBC news that a security video shows a man crouching as he torches the flags. He also says he believes they must have used an accelerant because the flags burned even though it was raining. Minko reported that the flags have been present since the bar opened, but this is the first instances of vandalism.
“This did not intimidate any of us, we stayed open, we kept the party going until it was time to close and we will keep the party going like we have been for the past three years. We have been proud 365 days a year and we will keep going,“ Minko told NY1.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed the incident on Twitter on Saturday. “I am disgusted by the burning of a Pride flag outside an LGBTQ bar in Harlem early yesterday morning,” the tweet read. “This was a despicable and cowardly act made worse by the fact that it happened on the eve of Pride month.” He also said that he has directed the New York police Hate Crimes Task Force to assist in an investigation.
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
Minko told NBC News that the police took the damaged Pride flags as evidence, but that he hoped to have replacements up Monday.
“Bigger, brighter, bolder flags,” he said.