ALCOA, Tenn. (WATE) — Members of the community are rallying behind two teens after a painted Pride flag was painted over, not once, but twice.
A video posted on social media has gotten national attention and has sparked out rage. In it, a woman can be seen yelling profanities at a group of teens painting a Pride flag at a busy intersection. She then painted over it with white spray paint.
On Wednesday, the community came out to repaint the Pride colors. However, it was painted over again with derogatory words.
On Sunday, dozens came out to the bridge to repaint the Pride flag and to show love to the LGBTQ community.
The original painting was suppose to be a way for the teens to show support to the community.
“Me and my girlfriend painted the bridge with the intention of letting other people like us know that they’re not alone in what they’re dealing with and struggling with,” said 16-year-old Jasmine Martinez.
The two teens’ struggles became real when they say a woman came up to them, telling them that her beliefs were just as important as theirs and painted over their work.
“She just came and berated us and started yelling a bunch of hateful things,” Martinez said.
The encounter was recorded and gained a lot of attention in the community and on social media.
“Honestly, it was just frustration and it was just sickening that two 16-year-old girls had to go through that by themselves,” Abi Lucas said.
Her friend Octavia Lenoir added, “Her coming out and doing that to them looks like a representation of our community, and that’s not what we’re about.”
So they and other community members decided to come together to show the teens what they are about, by repainting the bridge.
“We’re going to paint it exactly like the first time Jasmine and Carmen did,” said Lucas.
Lenoir stated, “I think a lot of people will feel welcomed. I know that they’re not alone, I think that’s the biggest thing it’s telling everyone, ‘Hey, you’re not alone. We’re here with you, there’s more of us.’”
One paint can at a time, Alcoa community members hope to show their true colors.
“Make this a better place for our LGBTQ youth,” said Emily Nicole Brown.
It started out as two teens showing support to their community, and now the community is showing their support to the two teens.
“We’ve met so many new friends,” said Jasmine Martinez. “Before this, we didn’t really have anyone else to talk to and be there for us but now we have all of these people.”
The Alcoa Police Department said that no complaints had been filed with their department and all parties were within their rights.
Regarding the derogatory words painted over the flag the second time, they posted the following statement on their Facebook page.
Sometime late Thursday evening or early Friday morning derogatory words were painted on the bridge. The City of Alcoa painted over the inappropriate words. The City of Alcoa and the Alcoa Police Department will not tolerate anyone painting inappropriate, vulgar, or obscene comments or images. Additionally, threats or comments that attack or harass community members or organizations will not be toleratedAlcoa Police Department
See the original and full post below.