FRIDAY, June 17 — When Shawn Dyer read about the stolen Pride flags on the east side of Lansing, he immediately knew he needed to do something. His daughter Aubrey, 18, is in the middle of coming out as transgender. He wanted her, and Lansing, to know that the good in the community outweighs the bad.
“I just think it was important to counter this act of hate with love,” he said.
Soon, he and Aubrey conspired to make the space even more welcoming with Pride flags and more.
Three Pride flags have been stolen off the Welcome to Lansing sign on Michigan Avenue near US-127 since June 1. After the first two were taken, eastsiders led by Ryan Kost attached a metal flag pole to the welcome sign — whch the perpetrator sawed down. Lansing Police are investigating, and the incidents have been condemned by the mayor, police chief, prosecutor and state Attorney General Dana Nessel.
That prompted Dyer, 48, to act. Conspiring with Aubrey on Wednesday, the northside duo planted 50 mini-Pride flags and a new pole with a large Pride flag. Thier makeover included laying new mulch where flowers had been trampled.
When done, Dyer stopped by Kost’s house to return the Pride flag Kost had installed after the first three were removed.
Kost messaged Nancy Mahlow, a longtime eastside activist, to let her know what the Dyers had done.
Mahlow, a long-time eastside resident and activist, had gone up to the sign area Tuesday, after she learned what had happened to the first three signs. There she found many of the flowers she and other eastsiders had planted around the sign had been trampled. The solar-powered spotlight that lit the welcome sign had been deliberately directed away from where the last Pride flag had been.
She said she cried as she labored in the high heat. After hours of pulling out trampled flowers and laying new mulch, she left with a plan to return Wednesday night to finish the job.
This is the first time in the 40-year history of the sign and garden that they had been vandalized, Mahlow said.
“I just don’t understand this,” she said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
When Mahlow drove over Wednesday to take a look, she said she was “overwhelmed” with the display.
“This is the Lansing I know,” she said.
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