LONG BEACH, CA — A MAGA flag supporting President Donald Trump flew outside the Long Beach Police Department over the weekend. Ian Thomas Malone, a local Long Beach author, who lives across the street from the department, was alarmed to see the flag flying in front of her residence Saturday.
The flag went up Saturday afternoon at the department's headquarters on the 400 block of Broadway, according to Malone, and wasn't taken down until Sunday morning. But police say it only went up on Sunday.
"[It was] utterly horrifying," Malone told Patch.
Outrage and complaints circulated on Reddit and Twitter over the weekend with calls made to the department to remove it. After the flag still wasn't taken down Sunday morning, Malone took to Twitter, asking Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia to do something about the flag.
"Hey @LongBeachMayor, this Trump campaign flag flying on city property needs to come down," Malone tweeted. "As a transgender resident, I’m horrified that this is even allowed to happen. Long Beach is a very diverse city, the opposite of Trump’s America."
Malone said officers watched her take photos of the flag around noon on Saturday.
"The police timeline doesn't make any sense," Malone said. "They say it went up this morning (Sunday)."
Officers said they were trying to determine how someone could have gained access to the department's Public Safety Building to steal the city's official flag from its pole and replace it with one supporting Trump.
Police later released a video Sunday of an individual switching the flags.
"We’re still reviewing evidence to find those responsible for this," the department tweeted. "Video shows a subject cross the street, enter our lot which is under construction & change the flag. No indication the subject is a #LBPD employee & we’re working w/ construction company to locate any witnesses."
Due to ongoing construction of a parking lot at the police headquarters, access to that area is limited to primarily construction employees, according to LBPD Public Information Officer Juan Gomez.
Gomez said the action occurred sometime Sunday morning, contrary to Malone's photo, which was published on Twitter Saturday.
Police Department employees used bolt cutters to cut the rope and remove the flag. A crime report was taken and an investigation was underway to determine who is responsible for the incident, police said.
Officers were scrambling to figure out just how someone was able to pull off the switch.
"A padlock was also placed on the flagpole in order to restrict the flag's removal,"Gomez said. "The flagpoles are only accessible from a small, secured parking lot which houses a construction trailer."
The flag switch comes just days after the president's COVID-19 diagnosis, which has only further pitted Trump supporters and leftists against one another. Many have taken to social media over the last few days to celebrate the president's illness, while others have condemned this behavior.
"The LBPD is an apolitical organization and does not participate in any political activity that promotes one political party over another," Gomez said. "Flags or images depicting political activity are not authorized or endorsed by the LBPD."
Hey @LongBeachMayor, this Trump campaign flag flying on city property needs to come down. As a transgender resident, I’m horrified that this is even allowed to happen. Long Beach is a very diverse city, the opposite of Trump’s America. https://t.co/2fcXNwbA63
— ITM (@ianthomasmalone) October 4, 2020
We’re still reviewing evidence to find those responsible for this. Video shows a subject cross the street, enter our lot which is under construction & change the flag.
No indication the subject is a #LBPD employee & we’re working w/ construction company to locate any witnesses. pic.twitter.com/8toJXWmXQ1
— Long Beach PD (CA) (@LBPD) October 4, 2020