Norwalk officials accused of homophobia after removing Pride flags, decor from bar
NORWALK — Mayor Harry Rilling and the city were accused of homophobia after Pride flags and lights hung outside Norwalk's gay bar, Troupe429, were "recklessly removed," according to the owners. But officials say it's all to do with nearby sewer construction.
Troupe429 owners and spouses Casey Fitzpatrick and Nicholas Ruiz shared social media posts Thursday evening calling out Norwalk officials, including Rilling and state Sen. Bob Duff, for allowing the removal of decorations outside the bar on Wall Street.
The decorations, as well as the concrete barriers placed outside the bar as part of an increase in outdoor dining, were removed in preparation for a construction project on the sewer line that runs under the barriers outside of Troupe, according to a comment by Rilling on Fitzpatrick's post.
"These segments of sewer line are in dire condition and have to be replaced," Rilling said. "No one wants construction in front of their home or business, but these pipes are failing, and this project cannot wait any longer. I know that businesses are still working hard to rebound from the pandemic, and we will always do everything we can to support our local small businesses."
Rilling said the construction was moved from early June to this week to accommodate the bar and its patrons during Pride month. The barriers and outdoor dining area will be reinstalled once construction is completed, he said. The construction is scheduled to last between four and six weeks.
But the bar was supposed to prepare for construction starting Monday, Ruiz said. The confusion and outrage came from the decorations being removed and placed in the entryway, prior to the set date, without the owners' knowledge, he said.
"All of the money we spent to purchase & install those items now left in a pile at our doorstep that anyone can steal," Ruiz said. "I won't stop until every Norwalk Democratic Party official is challenged and removed for this relentless, unnecessary attack on small business."
The flags and lights were taken down with care and gently placed by the bar's entrance, city spokesperson Josh Morgan said.
"Our contractor required access to a manhole in preparation of the sewer line work next week, which the concrete barriers were covering," Morgan said. "When we went on-site, we discovered poles, flags, and lights were attached to the concrete barriers. Any inference that this was a deliberate attack on their business or the LGBTQ+ community is hurtful. The city strongly supports and stands with members of LGBTQ+ community today and always."
In a comment on Fitzpatrick's Facebook post, Duff called for an explanation and issued an apology to the business, but said he was not aware of the situation and was not involved.
"I'm not a part of planning or executing local projects like this in any way, shape or form," Duff wrote.
Troupe429 declined to comment on the matter further on Friday.
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