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Watch: Police Arrest Iowa Man Demanding Residents 'Burn That Gay Flag'

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday June 23, 2021

A man in Boone, Iowa, has been arrested for trespass and harassment after leaving homophobic notes at the homes of people who displayed support for the LGTBQ community, local outlet Ames Tribune has reported.

The 25-year-old suspect in the case, Robert Clark Geddes, was arrested on June 21 for allegedly leaving four notes at various residences bearing the message, "Burn that gay flag."

"Four identical criminal complaints allege Geddes 'entered upon the property of the victim without the permission of the owner(s) and with the intent to commit a hate crime,'" reports the outlet, noting that among Geddes' charges include a "hate crime enhancement."

"The four notes were all reported within an hour, the complaint says, noting 'consistent handwriting, matching paper tear marks, and marker bleed through on each page.'"

The notes were left taped to the doors of private homes on June 19, news channel KCCI reported.

Some of the homes that were targeted did not have a Pride flag, as one had a rainbow-themed welcome mat; and another a sign reading, "We believe... love is love."

The suspect was "caught on video leaving notes," We Are Iowa reported.

A police statement suggests the notes "were not threatening in nature," but residents disagreed. Before the suspect's arrest, one resident, Lacey Northrup, told We Are Iowa that the notes had "confused" her children. Northup went on to say, "They're just leaving a note now, but it could doing damage to property and people."

"It definitely did scare people," said Krystal Cox, owner of the rainbow-themed welcoming mat, the Ames Tribune relayed. Cox told the media she is supportive of the LGBTQ community but that wasn't why she displayed the welcome mat — she just "thought it was cute."

"Having someone in broad daylight come onto your property and leave a note like that, it is rattling," Cox said, adding that for the police "to say that it was non-threatening, I think, isn't an opinion that they can have."

The family with the sign reading "love is love" told We Are Iowa that the hateful note they received actually spurred them to buy a Pride flag. "We talked about it with our kids and decided that it was time to put up a big ol' Pride flag in the front of the house," April Burch told the news channel.

Local advocacy groups condemned the notes. "We would like to see this person charged with a hate crime," Damian Thompson of Iowa Safe Schools told the media. "Because whether these folks were allies or actual members of the LGBTQ community, this person knew exactly what they were doing."

"People want LGBTQ people to thrive here," Courtney Reyes, the head of One Iowa, told KCCI, but said that "loud voices" espousing hate are "harmful... because it makes us feel unsafe."

Watch the We Are Iowa news clip by following this link.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.