Police investigate hate crime after 2 rainbow flags were set on fire outside of Harlem gay bar ahead of Pride Month

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- Saturday marks the kick off to Pride Month and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, but police in New York City are now investigating a potential hate crime against the LGBTQ community.

Someone reportedly set fire to two rainbow flags flying outside of Alibi Lounge on Adam Clayton Powell near 139th Street around 1 a.m. Friday. This is the only gay bar in Harlem -- and the only black-owned gay bar in the city.

Surveillance video shows the vandal kneeling down outside of the bar and then lighting fire to flags. Someone comes into frame, alerts the staff, and by the time they were able to respond, the fire was mostly put out by the rain.

No one was injured.

The owner, Alexi Minko, said he's concerned about the kind of message the vandal was trying to send.

"You start to worry a little bit about what it means for us in terms of being a gay bar, in terms of the fact that we're visible to the community and also for the LGBT community in general -- right the day before pride," he said. "Is it a message that somebody's trying to send?

Despite these concerns, the bar remains open as the investigation continues. The singed and tattered flags still stand. The owner is not getting rid of them anytime soon because he wants whoever did this to know he isn't going anywhere.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also released a statement regardinng the incident.

"There is no place for hate in New York," he said.

Anyone with information in regards to the above incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.
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