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Long Beach Pride-Colored Lifeguard Tower Burned Down in Suspected Arson

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday March 24, 2021

A Long Beach lifeguard tower painted in rainbow colors was destroyed in a fire early on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Firefighters arrived just after midnight to find the lifeguard tower engulfed in flames. The tower had been painted by lifeguards in June in honor of Pride month. The California city west of Los Angeles is known as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly in the U.S.

Long Beach Marine Safety Chief Gonzalo Medina said authorities are investigating. "The tower served as a symbol of our strong support for diversity within our ranks and the LGBTQ community who call Long Beach home," Medina said. "The tower will be replaced and repainted by lifeguards."

Despite the fact that many people frequent the beach after dark, Mayor Robert Garcia believes the fire was intentional. The LA Times notes that "the tower had no power source that could spontaneously ignite." Garcia finds it suspicious that this is the first instance of a lifeguard tower burning down in approximately 60 years.

"To have the one lifeguard station that's burned to the ground be the one that was recently painted in Pride colors — that leaves little doubt that this was a targeted incident," the mayor said. "As a gay man who is also the mayor of a city, I understand that hate incidents still happen. They happen to people I know, and they've happened to me.

"We're going to build that lifeguard station back brighter and better than ever," he added.

The mayor took to social media to say as much.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.