A Symbol of Diversity Becomes a Target for Hate


A Residents Rainbow Flag Gets Continuously Vandalized in Saline Photo Credit Jens-Christian Meiners

A rainbow flag full of bright colors and purpose, waves on the home front of Jens-Christian Meiners. Meiners, a Biophysics professor at a local arts college, moved to Saline from Germany in 2000. Over the past couple of years, Meiners has been experiencing disruption and vandalism of numerous rainbow flags he has hung outside of his home. Meiners wasn’t concerned about the flag initially, and hung it there to support marriage equality, “Everything was fine for a long time,” he stated, “I used to fly various banners from that pole, like a University of Michigan flag during football season.” Not all flags get a reaction, but in this case, there was one that could compromise his safety.

In 2014 The Federal District Court legalized same sex marriage in Michigan, “I put up a rainbow flag to celebrate,” said Meiners, “Six days later, the Court of Appeals stayed the decision, and I decided to keep the flag up until marriage equality was won.” Meiners took the flag down overtime, but many people in the community praised and appreciated his efforts, it was then put back in place. The flag was first vandalized in the middle of 2021, and when Meiners replaced it, he decided to incorporate the POC colors to include all LGBTQ rights and efforts. As time went on, the incident didn’t slow down for Meiners, and the flag continued to get defaced, “It was stolen two more times,” he said. In between thefts, the flag had gone missing for 3 months, and this time around, Meiners was better prepared. Knowing the events would likely happen again, he had video surveillance positioned around the property, and eventually caught the suspect on camera. Meiners also captured still images of the person from that video footage.

Meiners then uploaded a video on YouTube, in hopes of any recognition of the person. Concerned the content might be taken down, he added the theme song of The Benny Hill show “Yakety Sax” by Boots Randolph. The video received over 20,000 hits. It shows the footage in time lapse and can be quite disturbing to watch as the suspect is seen running around the property in almost military fashion, hitting the dirt, and trying to hide from cars driving by. Meiners shared with STN that his reason for posting the video was twofold, to see if someone could identify the man, “I would like to identify this guy so that he can get whatever help he needs.” said Meiner.

One can never be sure what someone else is capable of, and as crimes reoccur, help from nearby resources can be a good start, “I feel the neighborhood is quite supportive,” said Meiners. Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office soon became involved, and according to Meiners, Deputy Sheriff Paul Adkins was helpful in the case. Adkins knocked on doors, monitored the property and offered Meiners further assistance during the case. Meiners has received a great deal of support through the community and has found most of his story heard and carried through social media channels. His current course of action is to keep his cameras rolling and encourage community awareness. A nearby church also had a rainbow flag removed from the property, in the times of Meiners case of theft.

We may not live in a balanced world, but these small acts of hate can become large-scale if gone unaddressed. No arrests have been made and the identity of the suspect is still unknown. Reach out to local authorities if you have any information on these events or can help identify the suspect.

Still Image of the Suspect Photo Courtesy Jens-Christian Meiners
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