An Evansville man says his religious beliefs were discriminated against after his personal property was burned.
There’s a Ted Cruz campaign sign that sits in front of a brick porch on the south side of Evansville. Above it, there’s an empty flag holder where Blake Bartolotto’s beliefs used to hang.
“Somebody’s got to know what this flag is to grab it up and throw it in the middle of the road and set fire to it,” he said.
Friday, which was Good Friday, Blake says he and his fiancée got home from running errands and noticed his Israeli flag was gone. At first, he thought the wind might have picked it up. But a couple hours later, he realized that wasn’t the case.
“We drive a little down the street about the end of that street and we find the Israel flag burnt and laying in the middle of the road, ran over,” he said.
Bartolotto says he’s a Christian and he, and his house, stand with Israel and the Jews.
“I’m pro Israel, very pro Israel,” Bartolotto said. “I’ve always been pro-Israel. I’m always going to be pro-Israel. I stand with Israel and I stand with no one else.”
He says, he believes, this is a hate crime.
“To me this is something done with religion culture and it needs to be warned [against] in this community. It’s happening all over the world and needs to be stopped,” Bartolotto said.
He says now he doesn’t feel like he belongs in his own community.
“It makes my kids feel not safe, it makes me feel not safe, it makes my fiancée not feel safe,” he said. “It’s just very threatening and that’s a threatening statement if you ask me.”
While he hasn’t filed a police report, he says he has contacted the Evansville Police Department and asked for more patrol in his neighborhood.
“It should not happen in the city and should not happen to anyone in the Tri-State,” Bartolotto said. “Just because you’re pro-Israel and you want to hang a flag up there or pro police and want to hang a pro police sign up there, you’re allowed to do so. It’s your property and you pay rent and are a taxpayer of this community.”
Bartolotto says he’s now hoping his family can get on with their lives without persecution. The Evansville Police Department says until a police report is filed, there is not much they can do about the incident.