Two Santa Ynez Valley Men Charged with Stealing and Burning Pride Flags

By the edhat staff

Santa Barbara County District Attorney has charged two men in the Santa Ynez Valley for stealing and burning LGBTQ pride flags and sharing it on social media last summer.

Avi Stone Williams, 18, and Joshua Jerome Eligino, 19, have each been charged with two misdemeanor counts of petty theft and one misdemeanor count of a violation of Civil Rights.

According to the District Attorney’s complaint, the Civil Rights violation is described as the suspects unlawfully and knowingly defacing, damaging, and destroying personal property “for the purpose of intimidating and interfering with the free exercise and enjoyment of a right and privilege secured by the Constitution and laws of California and the Constitution and laws of the United States because of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender, and sexual orientation and because the defendant perceived that the victim had such characteristics.”

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office released details of their investigation into two thefts of Pride Flags in the Los Olivos area. On July 28, 2022, deputies responded to St. Mark’s in the Valley Episcopal Church in Los Olivos to investigate a report of the theft of a pride flag.

Deputies spent several days investigating the report including collecting physical evidence, interviewing victims and witnesses, and tracking down a video of the burning of a pride flag.

As a result of their efforts, deputies identified two young adult suspects in the theft who admitted to an additional theft of a pride flag in the Ballard area at a private residence, as well as the burning of one of the flags in a video they shared on social media.

A violation of Civil Rights is considered a “hate crime” under California law.

“The Sheriff’s Office takes these offenses seriously and the case has been submitted to the District Attorney’s Office requesting charges for 488PC – Petty Theft and 422.6(b) PC – Hate Crimes,” the Sheriff’s Office press release stated in 2022. 

“In accordance with the Victims’ Bill of Rights, the District Attorney’s Office has met with the victims and members of the community and received input on how they have been impacted by these events,” the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office states.

Williams and Eligino are set to be arraigned in Department 9 in the Santa Maria courthouse on April 19, 2023.

Related Articles

 August 1, 2022: Sheriff’s Deputies Investigated Thefts and Burning of Pride Flags

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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    • Pepperdine was begot as an evangelical Christian school. The original campus on Vermont was known for the Sunday evening “holy roller” services in the chapel. I don’t think Pepperdine is likely to object to the off campus “frolics” of their paying students.

  1. @ Sacjon, I won’t get my panties into a bunch like you over a flag burning… It was basically a non-crime during the 2020 RIOTS when American Flags were burned by the 1000’s.
    These two misguided youths will be held accountable during the LGBT+ craze going on these days…
    No hand wringing here.

  2. It seems to me that crime and punishment today has less to do with the crime and more to do with who the criminal and the victim are. There is an increasingly popular trend to classify everyone and assign them a ranking of sorts based on how they are identified. Anyone who is assigned a low rank will face a stiff penalty for even the slightest offense against someone who is assigned a high rank. On the other hand, someone who is classified with a high rank can get away with a lot in committing offenses against someone with a low rank. A good rule of thumb to figure out where you fit into this ranking system compared to someone else is to consider a college admissions process. Assume you and the other person have identical academic qualifications and consider who would be given preference based on their identity. That person has the higher rank. It’s wise to be aware of how this system classifies you.

  3. So this is all involving “Pride Flags.” I have never understood how the word “pride” came to be co-opted to mean LGBTQ. Pride is defined as “a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements.” LGBTQ is a human state that just is what they were born with, not derived from any accomplishment. It is not something that they have accomplished any more that what “straight” people have accomplished by being born that way. Perhaps someone from the community can explain the logic about it, if there is any logic behind it.

  4. COAST – LOL!!!!! You have “NEVER seen ANY discrimination or violence directed to anyone who was gay. In fact, just the opposite. 40 (FORTY) years ago, my Mom worked in the medical profession and most of her male co-workers were Gay.” – Are you gay? If not, your comment is absolutely meaningless and tone deaf.
    “My mom worked with gay people, ergo there’s NEVER discrimination against LGBQT people.” Dude…… speechless, honestly.

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