Reading’s LGBTQ citizens started an impromptu Pride march after the mayor canceled their flag-raising just moments before the event. / Scrrenshot via YouTube @Berks Weekly
Reading, Pennsylvania citizens are complaining about their mayor after he halted the raising of a Pride flag in town.
This past Monday, citizens were preparing for the raising of a pride flag over City Hall for the first time in town history, but Mayor Wally Scott then suddenly changed his mind.
On the day of the flag’s raising, Scott announced a change of plans and that he was prohibiting City Council and city employees from raising the flag. His reasoning? It was too much of a political statement.
“He has concerns for flying a flag for one specific cause because it could raise questions,” said Council President Jeffrey S. Waltman Sr., who says he found out about the change five minutes before arriving at City Hall on the morning of. “I didn’t even have time to debate that with him”
“The mayor’s position is that he does not support flags being up that support political movements and he views that as a political movement,” said acting Managing Director Osmer Deming said.
As he told local news source the Reading Eagle, Waltman tried to convince the mayor to let the flag fly for a few hours, but to no avail.
“The mayor stated he supports the group, the cause but had concerns about raising the flag,” Waltman explained.
After hearing the news, the crowd that arrived for the flag-raising decided to march over to the corner of 9th and Washington streets where Mayor Scott is known to hang out. Unfortunately, he wasn’t there.
Berks County Commissioner Kevin S. Barnhardt then tried to contact his fellow commissioners Christian Y. Leinbach and Marck C. Scott to see if they would allow the flag to fly at the Berks County Services Center. Unfortunately, they “did not want to set a precedent.”
Thankfully, the neighboring town of West Reading offered to display the pride flag at their Borough Hall.
“A short while ago, we were talking about how disappointed we were with the city of Reading when they were trying to raise the flag at city hall and their mayor thwarted it,” West Reading Mayor Andrew Kearney said, according to WFMZ69News. “I said you can fly your flag in front of my borough hall if you want.”
Unfortunately, there weren’t enough clips to fly the flag, so they settled for a small ceremony on the steps of the building.
“We don’t discriminate against anybody in West Reading,” added Kearney.
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash
In addition to this ceremony, the Reading Pride Celebration went on to file a formal discrimination complaint with the Human Relations Commission at Reading’s city hall.
“I have no idea what the end game will be but, ya know, hopefully it will be a positive step for both the city and for pride,” said Ben Renkus, president of Reading Pride Celebration.
Meanwhile, Mayor Scott insists that he meant no harm.
“I’m not protesting them. They’re protesting me,” Scott said Tuesday. “I just basically stated ‘No, it’s not good to do,’ but it’s not protesting them. I’m not saying I’m against them, nothing. They’re not listening. I support the movement. I’m the only mayor that ever signed the ordinance to bring it into effect for that organization, so I’m not against it.”
“Nothing was done maliciously by me. I mean, I’m who I was on the day I walked in, and I’ll be that the day I walk out,” Scott added. “I don’t change.”