A Pride flag at a United Methodist ministry that serves Virginia Tech students was taken down and replaced with Confederate flags.
Police in Blacksburg are investigating after the incident left church leaders angry and “concerned for our students,” The Washington Post reported.
The rainbow flag, which flew on the front of Wesley’s building was torn down Saturday and ministers found a rebel flag in its place. A second rebel flag was also found at the building, according to the report.
The incident marked the third time in two weeks that a Pride flag at the organization went missing, the article said. Church leaders reportedly brushed of the prior thefts but called police after the “Stars and Bars,” commonly used as a white supremacist symbol, were found.
“We have reported this as a hate crime,” Bret Gresham, a minister at Wesley, initially tweeted.
Gresham later walked that statement back and reportedly wrote he didn’t necessarily think it was.
“We are just saying we denounce all forms of hate and intimidation,” he stated, according to the newspaper.
Virginia Tech condemned the crime and said they would help police find the perps.
“Incidents like this remind us that the journey to equity and social justice — whether in our community or others across the country — will be long and hard-fought,” the university said in a statement Wednesday.
The incident comes amid a reckoning of the appropriateness of displaying the once omnipresent symbol in the southern states.