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LGBTQ community upset after City of Florence crews washed away painting celebrating gay pride

The rainbow crosswalk was washed away moments after it was painted.

Posted: Jun 13, 2019 5:17 PM
Updated: Jun 13, 2019 6:52 PM

The LGBTQ community in the Shoals is upset after they believe the City of Florence wronged them.

On Thursday at 6 a.m., Equality Shoals and LGBTQ supporters gathered to paint a crosswalk on Mobile Street with a rainbow to celebrate Gay Pride Month. Right after the painting was done, City of Florence crews showed up and washed it away.

Florence Mayor Steve Holt said what the group did is illegal, because the city doesn't allow anyone to paint crosswalks.

"Some of it still hasn't come up. We haven't been able to get it up, and we just say no to all of those and we will continue to say no," said Holt.

Holt told WAAY 31 a city ordinance prevents anyone from painting on streets or crosswalks, unless they get permission from the city. That's why city officials immediately washed away the painted rainbow.

"The police department called the fire department and they came and washed it off, but there are still some remnants there," said Holt.

WAAY 31 did learn Equality Shoals volunteers applied for a permit to paint the crosswalk for Gay Pride Month, but that request was denied.

"We don't sense that there was any miscommunication on our part. We made it pretty clear that it was denied," said Holt.

Mathew Pereda, the president of Equality Shoals, said they wanted to paint the crosswalk to get everyone hyped up for Gay Pride Month. Pereda and others took their request to the Florence City Council and thought they were in the clear with the project

"We thought we were following the law as we were led to believe by Florence City Council members. As we learn more, we will let everyone know," said Pereda.

Holt said that was not the case and they did not get permission during the city council session to paint the crosswalk.

"They really didn't ask for a vote, and no vote was taken," said Holt.

Holt said they do not plan on pursuing any criminal charges against members of the group for painting the crosswalk.

The Shoals Diversity group released the following statement about the incident:

"Equality Shoals and Shoals Diversity Center are actively working on a solution to this matter. Our organizations felt we were following the law as we were led to believe when we made our statement to the Florence City Council at the working session on the 4th of June."

The City of Florence did approve their permit for the Pride on the Plaza/Equality March for Unity and Pride on June 29.

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