A homeless man in New York City has been charged with two hate crimes after defecating on a Pride flag and using another to wipe his behind at a restaurant in Manhattan, reports the New York Daily News.
The incident occurred on the morning of April 15, when Fred Innocent, 45, walked into a tapas bar in the Upper West Side and took two rainbow flags from a table. According to the NYPD, he proceeded to defecate on one and then clean himself with the other.
“This was a total hate crime,” restaurant owner Courtney Barroll told the Daily News. “He came in within 15 minutes of us opening up the restaurant. He could have gone to Popeyes or McDonald’s around the corner. He could have used napkins.”
Barroll explained that she had displayed the flags in her restaurant as a way to be welcoming to the gay community.
“We support everyone no matter what kind of background, race or lifestyle,” she said, adding that she believes Innocent deliberately used the flags because of intolerance.
“He took the only two flags in the area and he used one to defecate and the other to wipe himself,” said Barroll.
Restaurant porter Enrique Trujillo discovered the mess while going about his cleaning duties.
“I smelled something really bad,” Trujillo said. “When I started to clean near the corners - that’s when I saw it.”
Trujillo explained that the incident had taken place beneath a surveillance camera.
Barroll told the Daily News that hate crime detectives had worked tirelessly to track down Innocent.
New York City Police Department had posted on Twitter at the time that they were looking for a man in connection with the alleged hate crime.
New York State defines a hate crime as being if the victim was targeted “because of a perception or belief about their race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation, or when such an act is committed as a result of that type of perception or belief. These crimes can target an individual, a group of individuals or public or private property.”
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