Long Beach Police Dept. city flag was stolen from flagpole, replaced with pro-Trump banner

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A city flag was removed from a pole outside of a Long Beach, Calif., police station and replaced with a banner supporting President Donald Trump, leaving officers on Sunday searching for clues as to the identity of the person responsible.

Someone managed to get into a secured area of the Long Beach Police Department that is currently under construction and switch out the city’s flag with an “unauthorized political flag,” according to officers.

Afterward, the culprit placed a padlock on the flagpole to prevent the banner from being removed.

“LBPD is currently working on identifying the individual/s responsible for this incident,” Assistant Chief of Police Wally Hebeish wrote on Twitter. “We are reviewing all available information and evidence and will update this message as facts become available.”

According to a grainy video the department released, a person is seen crossing a street in front of the construction area before entering it and changing out the city flag with a red banner that says, “TRUMP: Make America Great Again.”

“We’re still reviewing evidence to find those responsible for this. Video shows a subject cross the street, enter our lot which is under construction & change the flag,” a subsequent tweet from the department says.

“No indication the subject is a #LBPD employee & we’re working w/ construction company to locate any witnesses,” the post adds.

The department said that the flagpole could only be accessed from a “small, secured parking lot” where there is a construction trailer.

Access to the lot is limited mostly to construction workers due to continuing work that is being done to the police headquarters parking lot, the department said, adding that employees had to take a bolt cutter to cut the lanyard and remove the banner.

“A crime report has been taken and an investigation is underway to determine who is responsible for this incident,” the department added.

“LBPD is an apolitical organization that does not participate in any political activity that promotes one political party over another,” the department wrote in a statement. “Flags or images depicting political activity are not authorized or endorsed by the LBPD.”

A photo of the flag was posted online by Ian Thomas Malone, a transgender author and film critic who lives nearby, the Long Beach Post reported.

“I live right next to the police station,” said Malone. “It sickens me that they’d tolerate this.”

The paper said it wasn’t clear how long the banner had been flying before police discovered it on Sunday. One police official said department employees are responsible for raising and lowering the flags — the American flag, the State of California flag, and the city’s banner — but they aren’t raised and/or taken down on a daily basis.

Malone told the post she and her partner were upset to see the flag.

“I moved to Long Beach because of its progressive reputation,” she said.

“As a transgender resident, I’m horrified that this is even allowed to happen,” Malone tweeted. “Long Beach is a very diverse city, the opposite of Trump’s America.”

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Jon Dougherty

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