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Man pulls down gay pride flag outside Rep. Alan Lowenthal's Washington office

An unidentified man entered Rep. Alan Lowenthal's Capitol Hill office Wednesday upset about the display of a gay pride flag and pulled it from its stand outside the office to forcefully and repeatedly step on it, the Long Beach congressman said Thursday.

The incident occurred after the man told Lowenthal's staff that it was “immoral” and “disgusting” to fly the flag associated with the gay rights movement near the American flag, Lowenthal said.

“The fact that someone would grab a flag that they didn’t like and not just throw it on the ground, but stomp all over it ... it’s certainly shocking,” he said.

Lowenthal was not present, but his chief of staff and other staff members followed the man down the hallway and urged him to return to the office and speak with Capitol police.

Capitol police spoke with the man at the office, Lowenthal said.

“They told us he didn’t break any rules or any laws, so they let him go,” he said.

A Capitol police spokeswoman said they do not comment on ongoing investigations.

Lowenthal, vice chairman of the House LGBT Caucus, has displayed the gay pride flag outside his office since 2013. He said he was told at the time it was the first of its kind to be displayed at the Capitol. He said passersby often comment that they're happy he's displaying the flag, but this is the first incident of someone having a negative comment about it or touching it.

“I just think it’s terrible. I’m just shocked that it happened,” Lowenthal said. “It just reinforces my belief that more work needs to be done.”

The flag already is back on display.

“We’re proud to fly the pride flag, and we’re going to continue to show how proud we are,” Lowenthal said.

Many members of Congress have displays outside their Capitol Hill offices. Several members of the California delegation display pride flags alongside the American flag and the California flag, and they jumped to Lowenthal’s defense.

1:04 p.m.: This post has been updated with comment from the United States Capitol Police.

It was originally published at 10:19 a.m.

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