Sayville Congregational United Church of Christ, located in Sayville, NY is a progressive and inclusive church. The reverend, Ray Bagnuolo, is an openly gay man who has placed pride flags on the church's lawn to promote LGBT pride and to show that the church welcomes people of any sexuality. However, one man has repeatedly stolen the pride flags and, since crime definitely does not pay, he has been arrested, according to ABC News.
The 21-year-old man who stole the pride flags, Ronald Tyler Witt, was arrested at his home in Sayville on Tuesday. He was arrested on six counts of petty larceny as a hate crime.
Bagnuolo says that these thefts are "unnerving" and that "These types of things are meant often to send a message. Sometimes there just a dumb thing that people do, but repeated over and over it begins to feel like there's a targeting going on here and there's a message." I am inclined to agree with that, as the other flags displayed on the church's property remained there. He also said that he does not know Witt but is welcome in the church, as he recognized the thefts as acts of aggression and hate but instead of stealing the flags again, he should talk to the congregation.
While he does forgive Witt, he is glad that he will be held accountable for his actions, and the rest of the congregation feels the same.
It's sad to see such crimes in this day and age, but progress is still being made in the advancement of LGBTQ recognition which will hopefully decrease incidents such as this.
h/t: ABC News