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'Kindness will always prevail,' Lansing east side neighborhood reinstalls Pride flag after fire

East Side Neighborhood Pride display
Posted at 9:45 PM, Jun 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-30 11:05:24-04

LANSING, Mich. — The Lansing Police Department is still investigating an incident that took place Tuesday morning when a man burned a Pride flag in a neighborhood on Lansing's east side.

But, the people behind the display say they aren't letting whoever keeps destroying the display win.

“I think it's beautiful, to be honest, I mean, regardless of how you feel about the meaning behind it, it's just downright pretty," said Shawn Dyer.

It's been a busy month for the Eastside Neighborhood Association.

“We put the Pride flag up, and it was up for probably five days when the trouble started,” said board member Ryan Kost.

On June 5, the first flag was stolen. Then another. And then another.

“The third flag we actually put a padlock through and they came with a saw and cut them out right off of the sign,” Kost said.

Shawn Dyer lives on the north side of Lansing and saw what happened.

“I try to teach my kid good lessons, and I try to teach them that, you know, you can always try to battle hate with with kindness, and that that's the best path to follow,” Dyer said.

So he and his daughter fixed the Pride flag display up to be even bigger.

“We planted about 50 smaller flags, and then put the new flag on," Dyer said. "We figured if you take one, we'll hit you with 50 more, and I'll kind of kill them with kindness type thing.”

Just a little over a week later, Kost got a knock on his door with some news he never thought he would hear.

“My dogs were barking at me and I went downstairs. It was one of the people that has been extremely helpful through the whole process," Kost said. “She was there and said, 'You'll never believe, they burned the flag.' And I said, 'What do you mean they burned the flag?' And she showed me. I was in disbelief.”

After the previous flags had gone missing, the Eastside Neighborhood Association set up a camera facing the flag, and this time, it caught someone setting the flag on fire.

“Judging by the video, it almost looks like he lit himself on fire as well," Dyer said. "So, I guess look for a fella with no eyebrows or arm hair.”

But less than 24 hours later, Dyer installed flag number six and made sure to get a few extra.

“I took a very early lunch and came out here and clean the mess up and put another flag in place,” Dyer said. “I've got eight more at the house right now. If they want to set it on fire again. I mean, no, please don't, but, but we'll put another one up.”

Kost said seeing the community come together and show their support for each flag incident has been amazing.

“I'm just so proud of my community that I have so many flags at this point and other people have flags, and backups," Kost said. "It's just an amazing feeling that, you know, when you stand up for the right thing, you're not alone here on the east side.”

And while he hopes it doesn't happen again, he's ready.

“I will not cower to bullies and we don't cower on the east side to bullies and we'll continue to put up flags," Kost said. "So they can, they can take all they want, because it's not about the flag. It's about the principle and the fact that this community has an open heart.”

The investigation into who set the fire is still ongoing.

In a joint statement the Ingham County Prosecutor's Office and Lansing Police Department said:

“The Lansing Police Department is working with the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office to assure the crime is addressed appropriately and hold the accused accountable. We understand that it is unique based on the bias it demonstrates, and we want the people of Lansing to know that we will continue working to make this a safe and inclusive community.”

Anyone with any information is being asked to contact the Lansing Police Department.

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