SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A Sioux Falls man is facing charges of reckless burning and intentional damage to property after pulling down and attempting to light a Pride flag on fire in downtown Sioux Falls late Wednesday night.
According to Officer Sam Clemens of the Sioux Falls Police Dept., an officer at a stoplight witnessed 24-year-old Meron Fishaye Berhe pull down the flag from the front of a business in the 200 block of S. Phillips Ave. Berhe then pulled out a lighter and attempted to light the flag on fire.
Officials say Berhe did not appear to be under the influence, and did not offer up a motive for the vandalism. Clemens says this type of property crime happens from time to time in downtown, and that due to state law, it does not amount to a hate crime.
Under South Dakota law, a hate crime must be an act of malicious intimidation or harassment targeting a person or specific group “because of that person’s or group of persons’ race, ethnicity, religion, ancestry, or national origin.”
According to Clemens, the law does not cover crimes targeting people or groups for their sexual orientation.