A Port Ludlow man seeking a seat for the 24th District in the Washington House of Representatives is facing possible charges after he allegedly pulled down a rainbow pride flag that was hanging at a church on Bainbridge Island.
Daniel Charles Svoboda, 41, was wearing a red “Trump” shirt during the July 20 incident at Seabold United Methodist Church.
After ripping 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, who identifies himself as a member of the “Trump Republican Party,” has a history of confrontations in the Pacific Northwest over rainbow flags and confrontations with members of the LGBTQ community.
In an email to a local newspaper, 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 Church incident.
“Svoboda was arrested in Portland, Oregon in May 2015 for scaling the side of the Silverado, a gay bar, so he could take the rainbow flag off the roof. He was arrested for suspicion of third-degree theft and a misdemeanor,” reports The Leader. “The following year, in September 2016, Svoboda made headlines while he was a cab driver and stopped his car outside Scandals, a gay bar in Portland, and pulled a bullhorn out of his trunk and began preaching against homosexuals, according to media reports. He was later fired by the cab company. Portland news outlets said Svoboda was seen back at Scandals on July 26, 2017 — the same day that President Trump announced he would reinstate a ban on transgendered people serving in the military — and began harassing patrons at the bar.”
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.”
Rev. Cindy Roberts said the rainbow flag has been stolen in the past, and the newest one was raised after generous donations from the community.
“Clearly he has a history and we happened to be one of his historical victims, for lack of a better term. Somebody needs to get him headed toward reconciliation,” the pastor said, explaining the church’s decision to press charges.
The pride flag is on display because Seabold United Methodist Church is a reconciling congregation.
“That is something the church itself has decided to promote within the denomination and as a justice issue,” Roberts said. “We wanted to do something to let the greater community know that that was a justice issue for us.”
“We’re just practicing what we believe is an important mission in the church,” Roberts said.