A Rainbow Flag was torn down from a Black-owned LGBTQ barbershop in Brooklyn on June 21 in what the owner described as the latest in a string of anti-LGBTQ incidents targeting the shop.
Surveillance footage shows a suspect with curly hair and wearing a navy blue T-shirt riding a scooter and removing the Rainbow Flag from the front of Camera Ready Kutz, Inc. at 73 Utica Avenue between Pacific and Dean Street in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
In the video, the suspect appears to injure their arm while stripping the flag from the awning, throwing the banner onto the ground, and fleeing the scene.
The same barbershop has been dealing with adversity since the start of Pride Month, according to Khane Kutzwell, the shop’s owner and master barber. Kutzwell said she found dog poop placed in a bag and scattered on the site’s premises. She also noticed a dead rat emitting a fetid odor from the back of the shop.
“I knew it definitely had to be something that was done on purpose,” Kutzwell said. “One pile of dog doo-doo, you understand that, but when you have multiple piles of dog doo-doo, and it’s going around the shop — something’s going on.”
She added, “Then, a big dead rat by our back door. A rat didn’t just come out of the sewer and decide to die right there. It definitely was placed. It was already rotting.”
Kutzwell is unsure whether the suspect in the video is connected to the other acts. The master barber, who has served the city’s LGBTQ community for more than a decade, blasted the attack as “old” and “tiring.”
“We’re not going anywhere,” she declared. “There’s always going to be queer people around.”
Kutzwell also took to social media to condemn the perpetrators.
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“I’m proud of my Pride Flag…She/He/They put up a good fight,” Kutzwell said alongside the Instagram post of the surveillance footage. “Like mama always says, make sure you ain’t the only one with a bruise after a fight.”
She added, “In my spiritual world seeing that small of a bag neatly tied and strategically placed could indicate someone was trying to wish bad on my shop. Not Today Satan!! I’m waaaay too blessed and protected for your antics.”
Kutzwell filed a police report on June 22 and police are investigating a report of criminal mischief, though no arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing. Kutzwell said NYPD detectives have not stopped by the shop since the report was filed.
Kutzwell also criticized similar bias-fueled attacks across the city.
“We’re in times where hate, in general, seems to be in fashion,” she said. “Things happening between police and Black men and boys, things happening in our government…[hate] against Asian Americans. Everything seems like a free-for-all of hate.”
After releasing the footage, Kutzwell has seen an outpouring of support for the shop on social media. Plus, the Rainbow Flag has returned.
“It is very telling that in 2021 we still have so far to go,” she said. “The Pride Flag is right back up, so the person didn’t do anything but create even more pride within the community…he can rip it down as many times as he wants — I’ll just get another one or wash the one that I have and keep putting it back up.”
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