Trump flag

A flag bearing the name "TRUMP" and the slogan "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN" hangs from a pole at the Long Beach Police Department Public Safety Building on Broadway on Saturday, Oct. 4. Police said it was not displayed with the department's permission, and was taken down Sunday morning. (Photo by Ian Thomas Malone)

Someone stole a flag hanging at the Long Beach Police Department’s headquarters over the weekend, then replaced it with another bearing the name “Trump” and the words “Make America Great Again,” officials said Sunday, Oct. 4.

The swap occurred without the authorization of the Long Beach Police Department, the agency said in a statement. Staff at the LBPD Public Safety Building at 400 W. Broadway noticed the flag on Sunday morning and had to use bolt cutters to remove it.

“The LBPD is an apolitical organization and does not participate in any political activity that promotes one political party over another,” the department wrote in a statement. “Flags or images depicting political activity are not authorized or endorsed by the LBPD.”

Investigators believe at least one person gained access to the flagpoles by trespassing through a portion of a parking lot that is currently under construction, police said. A description of any possible suspect was not immediately released. There was no immediate indication that a department employee was responsible.

Officers were working with the construction company working at the lot to identify any possible witnesses. Police released surveillance Sunday afternoon of footage recorded at the parking lot, but did not specify when it was filmed. A grainy, zoomed-in clip shows a figure crossing the street and approaching the poles. One flag appears to come down, and another goes up in its place before that person is seen leaving.

The incident took place with less than 30 days remaining before in-person ballots are cast in the presidential election on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Long Beach resident Ian Thomas Malone, 29, lives near the police station and said she was walking along Chestnut Avenue toward Broadway when she saw the bright red campaign banner flying next to the flags of the United States and the State of California as early as noon Saturday. It was still displayed when she returned to take a photo of it that day at 4 p.m.

Malone said the flag was partially obscured by a tree, and not easily visible from all angles to people standing on the street. However, she said employees entering the building’s parking lot should have seen the flag, and questions why it wasn’t taken down sooner.

Malone identifies as a trans woman, and said she moved to Long Beach in 2017 in search of a progressive community to facilitate her transition. She said residents have been supportive and her experiences have been mostly positive.

“But seeing that flag flying from the police station was outrageous, and made me question what values they were promoting,” Malone said.

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