Community members and supporters gathered on Abell Avenue Thursday evening to receive pride flags, flag poles and mounts after a fire that burned four homes early Wednesday morning. Neighbors who organized the flag effort sprang into action and connected with Flags for Good. The Indianapolis-based organization sent 300 flags to the Abell community overnight, and around 175 flags were hung, organizers. Additionally, Waverly Ace Hardware and Lowe’s Home Improvement of Towson donated the flag poles and mounts. Residents also used the opportunity to catch up with neighbors, chalk rainbow designs on sidewalks and decorate the damaged houses.

Sen. Mary Washington hugs a resident in the Abell community. (Taneen Momeni/The Baltimore Banner)

“We owe it all to the rapid response of Flags for Good. ... So many neighbors we passed kept saying, ‘We should get a flag for every house.’ We listened and were able to support that need,” the organizing neighbors wrote in a text message. “This was a community effort from the start, we just did what we could.”

Sheppy Barack and Tristan Quinn-Thibodeau work together to install Quinn-Thibodeau's flag mount. (Taneen Momeni/The Baltimore Banner)
People grab flags from a shipping box and catch up with their neighbors. (Taneen Momeni/The Baltimore Banner)
Sheppy Barack holds screws between his lips while he installs a flag mount. (Taneen Momeni/The Baltimore Banner)

While the response from the neighbors happened almost overnight, this quick action is not unfamiliar to this community. “We’d like to stress that this kind of good happens in Baltimore City all of the time. It shouldn’t take something bad for news sources to report on it,” wrote the organizing neighbors.

Councilmember Odette Ramos laughs with residents in her district at the pride Flag distribution. (Taneen Momeni/The Baltimore Banner)

“This is a way for neighbors to be supportive of the LGBT community, especially since so many feel threatened. Even though we don’t know that this incident was a hate crime, everything is being investigated right now, and there are a lot of people who felt that it was,” said councilmember Odette Ramos.

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Sen. Mary Washington chats with Abell community members as they come to pick up their pride flags. (Taneen Momeni/The Baltimore Banner)

“I hope that they know that the government is here with them, but also that I’m here to be just like everybody else to show that community and love wins over violence and fear,” said state Sen. Mary Washington. “This is what the Abell community does. It warms my heart, and I hope it almost makes the people whose homes were burned feel safe and protected by their communities.”

A younger Abell resident watches as Tristan Quinn-Thibodeau puts the flag onto the pole. (Taneen Momeni/The Baltimore Banner)

“This community is really special. It’s really important that we all came together. I think we’re really grateful to have strong community leaders and strong neighbor connections. I hope we can be an example for other people in the city and across the country,” said resident Tristan Quinn-Thibodeau.

Community members draw with chalk and place smaller pride gear on the houses that caught on fire on East 31st Street on June 15. (Taneen Momeni/The Baltimore Banner)
Abell community members hang their flags on poles or their porches to show support for the victims of the fire on East 31st Street. (Taneen Momeni/The Baltimore Banner)

taneen.momeni@thebaltimorebanner.com

Taneen Momeni is a photojournalism intern at The Baltimore Banner. She is a recent graduate from the University of Maryland-College Park. She not only hopes to learn more about visual journalism, but also hopes to help contribute to the effort for diverse, just and equitable local news that resonates with the community.

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