WATERTOWN — A City Court judge will decide whether a case will proceed against a local man accused of criminal tampering when he took down a Pride flag that hung in front of City Hall in June.
Donnie Lee Barrigar, of Union Street, was charged with third-degree criminal tampering on June 23 after he took down the flag that hung in front of City Hall in celebration of Pride.
At the time of his arrest, Mr. Barrigar said he was well within his Constitutional rights to take down the flag. He insisted that he’s protected by his First Amendment rights to use the Pride flag in his protest, saying he gets his views about homosexuality from his religious beliefs.
On Friday, City Court Judge Anthony M. Neddo reserved decision on motions and adjourned the case until Sept. 24 so that he has more time to consider them.
Mr. Barrigar has pleaded not guilty. He’s accused of lowering the Pride flag and stuffing it into a City Hall mailbox.
He’s been represented by Watertown attorney John W. Hallett, who’s argued that Mr. Barrigar was within his Constitutional rights to remove the flag.
Cassie L. Trangsrud and Nolan Pitkin from the Jefferson County District Attorney's office have prosecuted the case.
Attorneys on both sides filed a series of motions arguing their case during three court appearances since Mr. Barrigar was charged.
His actions prompted more than 150 LGBTQ+ supporters to come together in a show of solidarity to protest what he did. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo also offered to help the state police with the investigation into Mr. Barrigar’s action. The governor called him a bigot.
Last year, Mr. Barrigar caused an uproar and tension within the LGBTQ+ community after he posted a threatening Facebook message that called for a mass shooting upon hearing of last year’s Pride flag raising at City Hall.
Mr. Barrigar, who is also a “Flat Earther,” which means he doesn’t believe that the Earth is round and believes that the world is flat or a disc, has said publicly he plans to remove the Gay Pride again if it appears in front of City Hall.