A 30-year-old Manhattan woman was arrested and charged with hate crimes on Tuesday after allegedly setting fire to a Pride flag hanging outside of a popular Prince Street restaurant.
Authorities say Angelina Cando, of Mott Street, was arrested and charged with arson, criminal mischief and reckless endangerment — all of which also come with the hate crime charge — in connection to the burning of a Pride flag outside The Little Prince in SoHo.
The rainbow flag was set on fire at around 1:40 a.m. on Feb. 20 outside the French restaurant near Prince Street at MacDougal Street. When officers arrived, they observed firefighters extinguishing the blaze. There were no reported injuries.
A preliminary investigation determined that, at around 1:35 a.m., a woman — now believed to be Cando — exited the front passenger side of car stopped nearby and approached the establishment on foot before lighting the flag on fire. Cando allegedly immediately fled back into the vehicle.
Before the fire, first reported by ABC7, read “Make America Gay Again” — a phrase that workers told the news outlet may have set the woman off. Workers also told ABC7 that the flag had been stolen once before.
Hours after the flag was burned, community members came together to raise a new flag in a demonstration of resilience as police searched for its destroyer.
“This flag is five times the size of the original flag,” said Council Member Erik Bottcher as he held up the new flag. “The person who did this — their plan has backfired and backfired badly.”
Bottcher, whose district includes The Little Prince, identifies as gay.
There have been a number of other attacks on New York City Pride flags and LGBTQ businesses in recent years, Gay City News reported.
In November 2022, 34-year-old Sean Kuilan was arrested for a string of attacks on Vers Nightclub, allegedly throwing bricks through the windows on several occasions; in April 2022, 24-year-old John Lhota was charged with starting a fire that injured two people and destroyed the building at Bushwick’s Rash, a popular nightclub within Brooklyn’s LBGTQ+ community; and in 2019, Harlem’s Alibi Lounge’s Rainbow Flags were set ablaze in May, and once again in July.
Cops also believe Cando is responsible for defacing two NYPD patrol cars less than a mile from the restaurant, the Daily News reported.
Additional reporting by Heather Cassell
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.