Woman charged with hate crime after Pride flag set on fire

A woman sets fire to a Pride flag in New York

A woman has been charged with hate crimes after allegedly setting fire to a Pride flag in New York.

Angelina Cando was arrested on Tuesday (21 February) and appeared in court, facing charges of arson as a hate crime and reckless endangerment as a hate crime. She is reported to have claimed she was innocent during outbursts in front of the judge.

Cando, 30, was also charged with criminal mischief for allegedly scrawling “Jesus is King” on the back of two police cars. 

The charges relate to the setting fire of a Pride flag outside the Little Prince restaurant, in New York’s Soho neighbourhood, which was caught on camera.

Residents of the apartment building above the restaurant said they smelled smoke and heard the arrival of firefighters and police. Witnesses told of their shock.

Just two days later, Cando was arrested, reported New York City Council member Erik Bottcher, an local news sources.

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Bottcher, a Democratic New York city council member for district three, bought a new flag to the restaurant, after the arson attack.

“This flag is five times bigger than the original. To the person who did this, their plan has backfired and it has backfired badly.”

He fitted the new Pride flag himself while onlookers cheered their support.

The incident took place while the restaurant was closed, but an employee was still inside cleaning up the premises and the CCTV footage shows him stepping outside to see the burning rainbow flag, which bore the words “Make America Gay Again” – an obvious dig at Donald Trump’s “make American great again” slogan.

Employee Stu Matz told CBS: “It’s always been a nice, comforting thing to everyone in this neighbourhood because it means it’s diverse and open, and the fact that someone would burn that down is horrific.”

In the CCTV footage, a woman can be seen stepping out of a white van before using a cigarette lighter to set fire to the flag. Flames can be seen spreading towards an apartment building above the restaurant. But, as CBS reports, no one was injured.

Detectives in New York also believe that Cando was responsible for vandalising police vehicles in the Tribeca area on the same night as the flag burning.

Cando was arrested just a month earlier for assault on a family member who she lives with in her home in Manhattan. A few days later she was arrested again in a pizzeria for bothering a customer.