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Gay pride flag burned outside Ogden home, police investigating

By Tim Vandenack - | Nov 17, 2022
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The charred remains of a pride flag burned outside the Ogden home of Taylor Knuth and Sean Bishop, photographed Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. The incident, they think, occurred sometime the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022.
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Taylor Knuth addresses a gathering on Thursday, June 17, 2021, outside the Eccles Art Center in Ogden on plans to build an Encircle facility in the city geared to the LGBTQ community. He serves on the Ogden Encircle Advisory Board.

OGDEN — Taylor Knuth woke up Wednesday morning to an alarming discovery. Overnight, someone had burned the multi-colored pride flag that had been hanging from the outside of his and his husband’s Ogden home.

“It’s a bit jarring. A lot needs to be said about LGBTQ safety in Ogden,” he said Wednesday, hours after the finding.

It’s not the first time someone had messed with the pride flags he and Sean Bishop, his husband, fly almost constantly outside their home. Both are active in local civic matters — Knuth as a member of the Ogden Diversity Commission and a 2017 Ogden City Council candidate, Bishop as a member of the committee advising the city on efforts to replace the aging Marshall White Center.

“We’ve had our fair share of pride flags stolen,” said Knuth, who has volunteered with Encircle, an organization that helps LGBTQ teens and young adults.

But the burning at his central Ogden home, which he thinks occurred around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night, was the most dramatic incident and took more of an emotional toll. He contacted the Ogden Police Department, which is investigating, and has received a strong outpouring of support, as well as replacement flags, from friends and acquaintances.

“I’m at a loss for words, but I wanted to share this experience because it could easily have resulted in harm to our home and to ourselves,” Knuth said in a Facebook post, which generated numerous responses from well-wishers.

He’s feeling rattled, but both he and Bishop said they won’t back down in supporting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. “People are already sending us new flags. We’ll definitely keep a flag hung up,” Bishop said.

Knuth said he thought the pride flag outside his home had symbolized that it was a safe space, a sentiment that has now taken a beating. “Queer people are often the target of that sort of violence. I’m not NOT going to put up a flag because someone’s trying to intimidate me,” he said.

City leaders contacted by the Standard-Examiner didn’t immediately respond to queries seeking comment, but Lt. William Farr of the Ogden Police Department said police are investigating — “We take these incidents seriously” — and Knuth lauded authorities’ handling of the matter.

Police said they’ll canvass the neighborhood for video footage and step up patrolling in the area at night. “The police have been really, really responsive,” Knuth said.

Though part of the LGBTQ community, he has generally felt safe in Ogden, Knuth said. Now, he wonders if the city ought to do something more to safeguard the community, pointing to Ogden’s score of 58 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, meant as a barometer of how accommodating a community is to the LGBTQ community.

“It’s getting worse, it’s not getting better for queer people in Ogden,” he said, noting the city’s score last year of 72.

Salt Lake has a top score of 100 while Park City scores 70, followed by Ogden at 58. Five other Utah cities rank below Ogden — Logan and West Valley City at 48, Provo at 40, West Jordan at 36 and Orem at 22.

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