Nebraska police investigate hate crime after pride flag stolen, burned

A Nebraska police department has launched a hate crime investigation after an LGBTQ+ flag was stolen and another was burned at the same home.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, or DCSO, released footage of both incidents, which were caught on the west Omaha home’s doorbell camera.

Video from April 15 around 9:30 p.m. shows a hooded person wearing plaid, dark jeans and a face covering running up to a rainbow flag hanging on the home’s front porch. The person jumps to grab it, then runs away with it.

Then on June 2 around 2:00 a.m., video shows a hooded person with a face covering approaching the home’s replacement flag. The person then seems to apply accelerant to the flag before setting it on fire, and running away as part of the flag dropped to the ground in flames.

DSCO say the suspect in the first video appears to be male and that the suspect in the second video may have burns on his hands due to the fire.

Sheriff Aaron Hanson told a local publication it’s likely the same culprit or an organized group of people.

The sheriff’s office is asking anyone with information to report to its tip line at 402-444-6000.

Nebraska’s statute 28-111 says punishment for committing a hate crime is enhanced from the original penalty, meaning there can be additional fines or sentence time.

According to the Department of Justice’s latest data, dozens of hate crimes occurred in Nebraska in 2021. Of those, seven were motivated by bias against sexual orientation.