After neighbors fear hate crime, rainbow-colored flags flood the Abell neighborhood

Published on: June 17, 2022 3:08 PM EDT|Updated on: June 17, 2022 5:30 PM EDT

About two hours after the flag distribution, new flags make their way to E. 31st Street in support of the recent fire that was presumed started by the burning of a pride flag. The flags in the neighborhood are also joined with missing signs for cats misplaced from the fire. One cat, Luisa, was found in good condition Friday morning, but residents are still searching for one other.

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.

“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.”

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.

“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.

“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.”

“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.