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Arsonist Hits Harlem Gay Bar Again

Rainbow Flags burned for second time in a matter of weeks

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It happened again. For the second time in just over a month, Rainbow Flags were set on fire outside of a gay bar in Harlem, at around 1 a.m. on July 8.

Photos of the torched flags were posted to the Twitter account of Alibi Lounge at 2376 Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard near West 139th Street in Manhattan.

Posts from the bar’s Twitter account read, “Sad to report that someone has done it again! There is [sic] no words to express what we’re feeling! Evil has struck again!”

A person who was walking past the bar alerted the bar’s staff to the burned flags, according to police.

The latest torching came about five weeks after a homophobe first set the flags on fire shortly after midnight on May 31. Authorities were able to track down surveillance video footage of the man setting those flags on fire with what appeared to be a lighter, but no arrests were made and that suspect, still unidentified, remains on the loose.

It is not clear whether the same person is responsible for both incidents. Police have not announced any description of suspects in the July 8 attack.

Like the last incident, the NYPD is investigating the attack as a hate crime. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who directed the state’s Hate Crimes Unit to probe the first incident, announced he would be again directing them to assist the NYPD in the investigation “and hold those responsible accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

“This act of hate is repugnant to our values of equality and inclusion,” Cuomo wrote on Twitter.

Multiple attempts to reach the owner of the bar, Alexi Minko, by phone, were unsuccessful.

The bar has been in operation since it opened during Pride Weekend in 2016. Minko told Gay City News following the first attack that he previously worked as a human rights attorney but decided to ditch that career and open the bar after he realized there were no gay bars for locals in Harlem.

Minko described the first flag burning as a “terrible crime” and a reminder of how much more needs to be done — even in 2019 — to fight homophobia.

Updated 1:11 pm, July 8, 2019
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