Pride Flag Theft an Ordinance Violation, Not a Crime

LGBTQIA+ Pride flags were stolen from multiple locations in Sturgeon Bay last week in advance of Open Door Pride’s annual event. 

The thefts constitute an ordinance violation, not a crime, because the stolen flags don’t match the monetary level of a misdemeanor crime, said Sturgeon Bay Police Department Assistant Chief of Police Dan Brinkman. Sturgeon Bay adopts most Wisconsin statutes, one of which states that theft under $100 does not warrant a criminal charge. Instead, the perpetrators, if caught, could receive a petty-theft citation.

Flags were removed from the ARTicipation Studio & Gallery, Inn at Cedar Crossing, the Miller Art Museum’s M3 Gallery, Destination Sturgeon Bay and Sturgeon Bay’s Martin Park, as well as a private home. At a few businesses, flag poles were tampered with, and at the M3 Gallery, flags were ripped off the walls. 

The perpetrator or perpetrators are unknown, but the investigation is ongoing, Brinkman said.

Open Door Pride founder Cathy Grier believes the actions were motivated by homophobia, but she’s seen an outpouring of support for businesses that posted about the event on social media. 

“There’s no place for any kind of hatred in our world,” Grier said.