KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A rainbow flag outside the UT Pride Center was stolen on Saturday–and it wasn’t the first time. The center has been the scene of multiple accounts of vandalism and theft, twice losing their flag to vandals that have yet to be identified.
“Things like this happen every football weekend. I just have to prepare myself for what’s going to happen. Three things happened this weekend all in the same day,” said Thomas Tran.
He is a UT senior and a former student worker in the Pride Center.
“The overall the reaction from campus has been pretty absent and lukewarm,” said Tran who was notified about Saturday’s incident by Cole Tipton, another member of the Pride Center.
“On 8 p.m. Saturday night, I was walking to coffee, noticed something didn’t look quite right and what was left of rainbow flag that was torn away,” Tipton said.
He immediately notified police that were nearby and filed a report with the UT Police Department.
The University of Tennessee Police Department told WATE 6 On Your Side, “This incident is an active, on-going investigation and the report is going through our approval process. Once it is approved a brief narrative of the report will be available.”
The UTPD also confirmed that the suspect was a white male in khaki shorts, a dark colored t-shirt, a light baseball cap and tennis shoes.
Tipton met with UT administrators Monday afternoon to discuss the incident and the steps in finding the vandal. He says he is hopeful UTPD and the university have leads and will act.
“The meeting was very beneficial and I felt that the deans were very caring about the situation. However, I’m not surprised about what happened in the moment,” Tipton said.
The police department is asking anyone with information to contact 865-974-3111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.