A state House candidate in Washington who identifies as a member of the “Trump Republican Party” is facing possible charges for pulling down an LGBT Pride flag at a church.
Daniel Charles Svoboda, 41, was wearing a red “Trump” shirt during the July 20 incident at Seabold United Methodist Church on Bainbridge Island. After pulling down the flag and placing it on the ground, he allegedly warned people at the church, “If it gets put back up, I will take it down.”
Svoboda, a candidate for the 24th District House seat, has a history of similar incidents in the Pacific Northwest. In an email to local newspaper the Leader, he admitted to pulling down the flag because it “sends the wrong message to the very world that the church is supposed to be saving.”
“The mission of the church/body of Christ is to be a beacon of light unto a lost, dark and hurting world and to be a place of salvation from one’s own sins,” he wrote. “The church has lost her way and fails to communicate this message when it flies a sodomite flag.”
Svoboda, a truck driver, faces possible charges of harassment and malicious mischief, both gross misdemeanors, in connection with the latest incident. Previously, Svoboda was arrested on suspicion of third-degree theft for scaling the side of Silverado, a gay bar in Portland, and taking down an LGBT Pride flag in 2015. The following year, Svoboda was fired by a taxi company after parking his cab outside another Portland gay bar, Scandals, before pulling out a bullhorn and preaching against LGBT people. He returned to Scandals to harass patrons in 2017, on the same day that President Donald Trump proposed his transgender military ban.
In videos on his Facebook page, Svoboda has talked about being fired from two jobs after confronting people over their sexuality. According to the Leader, Svoboda’s police file includes a statement from the primary voters guide in which he vowed “no more special rights for women, people of color, homosexuals and those that wish to misrepresent their gender, tribes, and illegal aliens and anyone else that believes they deserve special rights. I am pro life and do not believe in a women’s right to vote or kill their child.”
When police called Svoboda to discuss the incident, he reportedly “asked how he should go about having the flag removed from the church property.”
“He mentioned a petition, a court order or asking the city council to order the flag removed,” a police report states. “Svoboda said that if he was flying a ‘White Lives Matter’ or a Confederate flag that he was sure he would be forced to have it taken down.”
According to the Peninsula Daily News, Svoboda conceded his legislative race after finishing third in Tuesday’s primary.