Staff with the Ladner United Church arrived at the building at 48th Avenue and Garry Street Wednesday morning to find black paint splattered over windows where the flags were hanging.
“Pride flags wave as symbols of acceptance, equality, and freedom, standing strong against any attempts to diminish our spirit or divide our community,” Delta Police Chief Neil Dubord said in a media release Thursday.
Police say the incident is being investigated as mischief, but because the flag represents the LGBTQ2 community, damaging it can also be seen as an act of hatred.
“By classifying such acts as hate crimes, Canadian law recognizes the importance of protecting marginalized groups and fostering a society that values diversity and inclusion,” police added in the release.
Police have opened five files into incidents at the Ladner United Church in the last several years, however despite “thorough investigations” have never identified a suspect.
One incident, in July 2022, was caught on camera, and involved a masked man using a sharp-edged pole to slash at a Pride flag.
On Wednesday, John Clement, chair of the church’s leadership council, vowed the congregation would continue to display the flags, despite the actions of vandals.
“We’re not going to stop, that’s all I can say,” he said.
“We have no problem with anybody not agreeing. We prefer they picketed, or wrote letters to the editor, or … come and talk with us.”