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Soldiers from prestigious U.S. Army unit charged with stealing Pride flags in Virginia

Author: Christopher Wiggins

For at least five months, Pride flags have been repeatedly stolen from outside a home in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C. But in a remarkable display of solidarity and resilience, residents of the south Arlington neighborhood have unified in support of the couple whose LGBTQ+ Pride flags were removed from their home.

Related: Massachusetts Man Arrested for Allegedly Threatening to Shoot, Burn Pride Flag

The turning point in this unsettling series of events came with the arrest of two soldiers from the United States Army’s Old Guard on Friday, Washington, D.C. NBC affiliate WRC reports. Matthew Henshaw, 20, and Joseph Digregorio, 23, were charged in connection with the thefts, bringing a complex layer of emotions given the Old Guard’s prestigious role in representing military honor through ceremonies, including burials at Arlington National Cemetery.

The community’s response to the arrests was swift and appreciative, with many neighbors choosing to fly Pride flags as a gesture of solidarity with the targeted couple.

According to WRC, dozens of Pride flags are flying from the homes of neighbors in the Arlington community. This unity symbolized a more significant commitment to standing against bias and supporting those targeted by hate. Resident Ken Miller expressed his dismay at the soldiers’ actions and commended the police for their diligent work in making the arrests, highlighting the mixed feelings surrounding the involvement of military personnel in such acts, WRC reports.

According to Military.com, Michelle Logan, who lives with her girlfriend at the targeted home, shared the impact of the thefts on their sense of belonging. Logan told the outlet that her Ring camera captured three of the five times that flags were stolen from the couple’s property.

“We know that, in Arlington, there are a lot of queer people and allies in the area,” she told Military.com. “But it’s still really hard to fit in when you’re queer, and this was a stark reminder for us.”

Despite Arlington’s reputation for diversity and inclusivity, the thefts served as a harsh reminder of the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ people nationwide. The neighborhood’s rallying support, which led to the affectionate nickname “Rainbow Road” for their street, showcased the powerful message of resilience and unity against discrimination.

Henshaw is charged with three counts of bias-motivated unlawful entry and three counts of petit larceny. Digregorio was also charged with one count of petit larceny.

The military’s response, according to Military.com, emphasized the ongoing investigation and refrained from speculating on potential military repercussions for the soldiers involved. A statement from Fort Myer-Henderson Hall underscored the Army’s commitment to diversity and equality, asserting that the actions of the individuals involved do not reflect the values of The Old Guard or the Army as an organization.

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Christopher Wiggins

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