News (USA)

Pride flag burned outside of City Hall following bomb threat against drag event

Progress pride flag (new design of rainbow flag) waving in the air with blue sky, LGBTQ community in Netherlands
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Tempe, Arizona police are investigating the burning of a Pride flag outside of a City Hall building, just months after a bomb threat targeted a local LGBTQ+-owned coffee shop.

The burned flag was a Progress Pride flag, containing extra stripes to represent the transgender community and people of color. It flew on a flag pole that also had American, Arizona, and Juneteenth flags, KPNX reported.

The city has since replaced the flag and repaired the burned flag pole. The flag was just one of many flying around the city’s downtown area, and City Manager Andrew Ching condemned the vandalism.

“This act of aggression does not represent our community. Hate has no place in Tempe,” Ching said in a statement. “We are committed to championing diversity, inclusion, and equity and ensuring that our community is safe and welcoming for everyone.”

The vandalism occurred just months after a February bomb threat targeted Brick Road Coffee, a queer-owned coffeeshop, possibly in connection to its hosting of a drag queen story event. Police evacuated the shop 20 minutes into the event, though no bomb was ever found. The event focused on Black history, in observation of Black History Month.

Detectives told the shop’s co-owner, Gabe Hagen, that anti-LGBTQ+ extremists were in the area the day that the threat occurred. The investigation has since been turned over to the FBI.

“That was an unfortunate instance of hate,” Hagen said, regarding the bomb threat. “It’s just misguided, unfortunately, and that’s disappointing to see.”

Hagen added that national headlines about the threat led to a massive increase in the company’s online sales of coffee and merchandise from those who wished to support the business. Hagen said that they felt it’s important to show resilience, rather than anger, in the face of hate.

“There is a way to overcome and it’s just through continuing to spread that love and kindness,” he said.

Last month, the Department of Homeland Security said that threats of violence against the LGBTQ+ community have increased over the last year amid a rise in rhetoric accusing queer people of “grooming” children and a wave of anti-queer legislation targeting drag, transgender youth and LGBTQ+ content in schools.

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