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'Hate-motivated': 2 sought by Edmonton police after Pride flag torn down during protest

Edmonton police released suspect photos Wednesday as officers investigate a hate-motivated mischief case that happened during the local "1MillionMarch4Children" protest last week.

Officers believe they have images of two men who tore down a large Pride flag that was flying outside of the Alberta Teachers' Association building.

The flag was left ripped and on the ground, police said, while hundreds gathered at the west Edmonton building to protest and counter-protest sexual orientation and gender identity curriculum in Canadian schools.

"The EPS Hate Crimes Unit provided front line officers with consultation and investigative support during the protest, and is assisting with this investigation," Edmonton Police Service spokesperson Cheryl Voordenhout wrote in a news release.

"Two unknown males were seen on surveillance footage running through the parkade during the protest. Police are circulating the suspects’ images in the hopes that someone may be able to identify them."

ATA president Jason Schilling said he was troubled by what he saw and heard from the protestors including when "a number of individuals stole and then destroyed" the flag.

"This aggressive act was deeply disturbing and we are glad that the police are investigating it as a possible incident motivated by hate," he wrote in a statement to CTV News Edmonton.

"Our thoughts and support are with members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community who are impacted by these despicable actions. We are cooperating fully with the police’s investigation."

Supporters of the protests have denied that they rooted in hate but Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi used the words "discrimination," "hatred," and "bigotry" in his statement about the gatherings, which took place across Canada.

"The protest taking place tomorrow, guised as protecting our children, will actually cause tremendous harm to our 2SLGBTQIA+ youth, their families, and allies," he posted on Sept. 19.

"Every person, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, deserves respect, dignity, and the freedom to be who they are."

Anyone who can identify the suspects is asked to call EPS at 780-423-4567 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online.

EPS also has an online option for reporting any hate-motivated incident. Top Stories

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