US soldiers arrested for gay pride flag theft
Two US soldiers have been arrested and charged with larceny and “bias” for repeatedly stealing LGBTQ pride flags from outside a lesbian couple’s house in Virginia. One of the allegedly bigoted bandits wore a cowboy hat as he made off with his rainbow-colored trophy.
Police in Arlington County received reports of a series of thefts from the women’s house between last September and this January. “In each incident,” the Arlington County Police Department said in a statement last week, “a male suspect approached the property during the early morning hours and stole a Pride flag from outside the residence before leaving the scene.”
Two US Army soldiers stationed at nearby Fort Myer were arrested on Friday. Specialist Matthew Henshaw was charged with three counts of Petit Larceny and three counts of “bias-motivated” unlawful entry for three of the thefts, while Private First Class Joseph Digregorio was charged with a single count of Petit Larceny for one theft.
According to Virginia law, a person commits a “bias-motivated” unlawful entry when they intentionally target a property based on the race, gender, or sexual orientation of the property owner. If convicted, Henshaw faces up to 12 months in prison and/or a $2,500 fine for each count. Each count of Petit Larceny carries the same penalty.
Michelle Logan, whose flags were stolen, told Military.com that she lives at the property with her girlfriend. She said that three incidents were captured on her Ring security camera, with the suspect wearing a cowboy hat in one encounter.
Both soldiers are members of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, also known as The Old Guard. The 3rd Infantry Regiment is the Army’s premier ceremonial unit, and carries out burials at Arlington National Cemetery.
“As this remains an active investigation, it would be too early to speculate on what repercussions the soldiers might face,” an army spokesman told Military.com in a statement. “We recognize the value of diversity and equality, and the actions of those involved do not represent the values and character of The Old Guard or our Army,” the spokesman added.
The Pentagon’s embrace of “diversity” has angered many within the ranks. Lawmakers in Republican-run states condemned the Department of Veterans Affairs for ordering pride flags to be flown at its cemeteries and hospitals last year, while conservatives have blamed the military’s teaching of ‘critical race theory’ and efforts to scrap gendered language for its ongoing recruiting crisis.