LGBTQ Pride flag burning not a hate crime in SD

Investigates

WEBSTER, S.D. (KELO) — A rural South Dakota man burned an LGBTQ flag while spouting obscenities about gay people on Facebook Live. Now the man who says it was his flag, wants to see charges in the case.

The site of the rainbow gay Pride flag flying in Sioux Falls typically doesn’t draw a lot of attention.
But when Troy Kriech decided to put one up in the small town of Webster, South Dakota, for June Pride Month, he knew he was taking a risk.

“I thought, ‘Oh, I’ve never done this before.’ You know, it’s a small town. But I thought, ‘You know what? Let’s just do it,'” Kriech said.

Never did he imagine it would end like this:

“Your f—— flag that deserves to burn, burn, burn, burn you queer sons of b——,” Darrin Pesall says in a Facebook Live video.

“I was just disturbed, disgusted–especially coming from someone I know, that they would actually do something that hateful and disgusting,” Kriech said.

The man burning the Pride flag is also from Webster. Pesall has since taken down the video.

Kriech wants to see him charged with a hate crime. The Day County State’s attorney says while an investigation is underway into Pesall’s actions, under South Dakota law, it’s probably not a hate crime.

“South Dakota does not include gender protection under the hate crime statute. Especially it follows the equal protection clause–race, color, creed and nation of origin–but it doesn’t include gender,” Day County State’s Attorney Danny Smeins said.

KELOLAND Investigates looked up the law, and found that the state’s law against malicious intimidation or harassment does not apply to sexual orientation, even though the South Dakota Attorney General’s website lists it as a hate crime.

Smeins is considering other misdemeanor charges.

“The potential crime here is the actions of Mr. Pesall — the crime might be the potential theft of the flag from someone else’s residence in town, as well as destruction of somebody else’s property. In addition with most crimes, it might be the cover up that is the most serious crime, and that is lying about aspects of the event,” Smeins said.

Pesall claims this isn’t Kriech’s flag at all.

Pesall: I burned a flag — not the flag that’s in question and what everyone is having such a s— show about.
Kennecke: Did you take Troy’s flag?
Pesall: No.

Pesall tells KELOLAND News he now regrets posting his actions on Facebook.

“It shouldn’t have been done the way it was done. I apologize to the people I offended. It was absolutely totally wrong,” Pesall said.

He says he was driven to burn the flag because of other protests he’s seen on social media.

“Much like the uproar over tearing down war monuments; the controversy over the confederate flag because they’re offensive. The public display of that type of thing is offensive to me,” Pesall said.

Kriech says he won’t rest until Pesall is charged.

Angela, that’s why I reached out to you because I don’t think it’s right, not only for me–but for the gay community–gay people who live in small communities who are afraid to come out. It’s hard to be gay in South Dakota.

Troy Kriech

Kriech lived in Webster for 13 years and says he’s only experienced a couple of negative incidents because he’s gay.

He’s currently in the process of moving all of his belongings to Minneapolis, where he says he decided to move because it’s a more accepting community.

The Day County State’s attorney says the incident is not a reflection of Webster and it’s his first experience with this kind of threat. He believes most people in Webster are embarrassed by the incident.

Pesall says the whole thing has been blown out of proportion.

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