Donnie Lee Barrigar thinks he was well within his Constitutional rights when he took down the Pride flag that hung in front of City Hall in June. A criminal tampering charge against him remains pending in City Court. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

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.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

Recommended for you

(11) comments


I think that there should be only three flags flown outside the City's Government Buildings ever, The American Flag, The State of NY flag and the City of Watertown flag. NO Exceptions, ever, for any reason.


That actually makes sense.


Stay objective with your reporting. What does the fact that he's a "Flat Earther" have to do with the Gay Pride flag matter?


It adds context.


It's prejudicial.


As a counter protest, burn a copy of his bible, see how he feels.


Not that I agree with this guy but why is it that taking down a gay flag constitutes criminal tampering but you can tear down, burn, walk on or even ban the Star Spangled Banner and that is considered free speech??


I don't see why this is covered by the First Amendment, any more than taking a towel off my clothesline and throwing it on my front porch would be. It's somebody else's property, leave it alone. If you want to protest, buy your own flag, don't use someone else's.


You can burn your flag, dont you dare burn mine!


Excellent point Canman!


You can do what you like with your own flag, but you shouldn't be taking down other people's.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.