Democratic Caucus of the Monroe County Legislature

County Executive Forcibly Removes Pride Flag from Dem Office, Threatens Dem Staff with Arrest

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Rochester, New York – July 19, 2013.  Democrats in the County Legislature today flew the Rainbow Pride Flag outside the Democratic Office windows in the County Office Building. The County Executive had previously refused to fly the flags in front of the building, citing a policy they cannot produce. Upon learning of the flag being flown in the Democratic Office, the County Executive or someone in her administration ordered a Sheriff’s Deputy and maintenance worker to gain entry to the Democratic Office and forcibly remove the flag under threat of arrest. 

“The events of this afternoon represent a clear violation of the notion of separation of powers in government and they are an affront to our hardworking LGBT friends and neighbors,” Democratic Leader Carrie Andrews said. “The County Executive may not support the LGBT community, but we do and we have the right to express that by flying the Rainbow Pride Flag outside our offices. Although they were able to remove the flags using the sheriff’s department, the LGBT community can rest assured that we will not be bullied. A new Rainbow Pride Flag is now proudly flying outside our office.”

At approximately 12:45pm this afternoon Democrats put the flags outside their office windows. By 1:20pm the County Executive’s Administration ordered a Sheriff’s Deputy and maintenance worker to enter the Democratic Office without permission.

After entering, the Sheriff Deputy told the Democratic Chief of Staff that the flags would have to be removed because, he claimed, the County Executive’s Communication Department did not approve of it first. Democrats informed the deputy that the Legislature is not under the purview of the County Executive or her Communications Department. Democrats indicated they would consider the request to remove the flag if the County Executive requested it in writing and cited the policy prohibiting Legislative Staff from flying the flag.

The deputy then stated that the flags needed to be removed or the Democratic Staff would be arrested. Democratic Staff indicated the deputy would need to go ahead with the arrest, at which time the deputy went to the windows and forcibly removed the flags. The deputy was informed that a new flag would be put up, to which he said the Democratic Chief of Staff would be arrested if the flag went back up. The new flag has been flying since approximately 2:30pm and neither the County Executive nor the Sheriff has asked for the new flag to be removed.