Pride flag stolen, sign urinated on in separate disturbing acts

Police in two local communities are investigating disturbing acts involving a Pride flag and a sign during Pride month, when the LGBTQ+ community is celebrated and embraced.

On June 14, shortly after midnight, video captured a man expose himself and urinate on a rainbow sign Norton resident Val Cabral had built and installed in front of their home to celebrate Pride month.

“I couldn’t believe it. When my husband said, ‘Oh, we have footage of someone peeing on the sign,’ I thought it would’ve been that someone was, like, walking home drunk and maybe didn’t realize was peeing on the post or something,” Cabral told Boston 25 News Tuesday. “But when he sent me the footage, he’s clearly doing it to get it onto the sign. He’s kind of getting on his toes and stuff to make sure he gets the sign wet.”

Cabral had constructed the wooden sign as a more permanent Pride display after they say more than a dozen smaller Norton Pride signs designed by a student and distributed throughout the community were stolen. As Cabral and their husband installed the new sign early this month, they placed a trail camera directly beside it.

Norton Police are looking to identify the man in the video. Police say the incident was isolated, with no other reports of the same behavior elsewhere in town.

“It was just very disheartening and kind of violating, because it’s not like this is on the road,” Cabral said. “You have to come into my driveway and deliberately walk over to this sign.”

Meanwhile, police in Marshfield are investigating a theft of a Pride flag and considering civil rights violations if the perpetrator is found.

Last weekend, Michael Phaneuf and his husband John Moniz woke up to find their Pride flag, which had been donated by the Rainbow Peace Flag project and zip-tied to their front porch, had been cut down and stolen. They found the snipped plastic ties and their porch bare.

“At first, you have that moment of, ‘Are we safe here? Is this – do we feel comfortable here?’” Phaneuf said. “And the answer is yes, overall we do. But at that moment it’s jarring, right? And it makes you feel a little bit unsafe, like, what’s going on here?”

After calling police, Phaneuf said the responding officer put the couple at ease and echoed the overwhelming message from the community, that Phaneuf and his family are welcome and accepted.

After sharing their experience on social media, a community member replaced their Pride flag.

“I think that’s the more important part of this story, is that one small incident that was negative can obviously turn into something really positive,” Phaneuf said.

While Phaneuf feels the incident is a hate crime, he only hopes the person responsible learns a lesson.

“I’m not looking to punish this person,” Phaneuf said. “I’m hoping for this person to rethink their choices and hopefully to say, ‘Maybe the gay community is actually a positive community out there.’”

Cabral, too, believes conversation is the answer.

“I would like to find this guy, and, if nothing else, someone talk to him about how to behave like an adult, because I see plenty of signs I don’t like and I don’t do stuff like that to them,” Cabral said. “The climate’s pretty extreme right now, but I still feel like talking to people can sometimes make a difference.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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