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Man arrested in hate crime after burning rainbow flag and punching worker at Berkeley LGBTQ center, authorities say

Man arrested in hate crime after burning rainbow flag and punching worker at Berkeley LGBTQ center, authorities say
A 32-year-old man is accused of burning a rainbow flag at an LGBTQ community center and punching a staff member who tried to stop him, police said. (Los Angeles Times)

Berkeley police arrested a 32-year-old transient who allegedly burned a rainbow flag at an LGBTQ center and punched a staff member who tried to stop him, authorities said.

Richard Woods was booked Friday on suspicion of committing a hate crime, arson and battery, Berkeley Police Sgt. Peter Hong said.

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The incident occurred about 11 a.m. Friday at the Pacific Center for Human Growth on Telegraph Avenue near UC Berkeley. Woods allegedly lit the flag on fire outside the center, and when a staff member rushed to intervene, he punched her in the face, Hong said.

The woman called authorities, who responded and found him nearby.

The man made derogatory statements about the LGBTQ community to the woman, as well as to police officers who spoke with him later, Hong said.

Woods is due in court Monday.

The center, which was founded in 1973 and provides mental health services, is the oldest LGBTQ center in the Bay Area, according to its website.

Twitter: @AleneTchek

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