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‘They just don’t know people in our community’: New downtown Bend coffee shop reports repeated thefts of pride flag

(Update: Adding video, comments by business owner, witness, police)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A new queer- and indigenous-owned coffee shop has opened up in downtown Bend. But in their first week, the business says they have had their pride flag stolen multiple times.

Teh Sanchez is the owner of Turtle Island Coffee. They said their business is a safe space for the community,

"This place is for our community, and it's for everyone -- not just queer people. It's so we know that, like, there's inclusivity for everyone,” they said Thursday, as Pride Month comes to a close.

Last Saturday, Sabrina Cooper, a local business employee, witnessed a group of people attempting to tear down the flag,

"When they could not succeed in doing so, they, I guess, tried to take selfies in front of the building, like pretending to fart on the flag or flip it off," she said.

About $500 in damage was caused to the building as the holder was ripped out during another incident.

The business filed a police report for the flag theft and damage.

A police spokeswoman told NewsChannel 21 that it's still an ongoing investigation. The group could be charged with criminal mischief and a bias crime.

Although some might be worried about the recurring attacks, Sanchez says they will keep putting pride flags up.

They said of the thieves, "They just represent, like, a tiny majority of folks. I don't believe that people are naturally like that. I think that the folks who do this, unfortunately they just don't know people in our community. They don't understand that, like, we're just humans."

Turtle Island Coffee will be holding a flag drive at the shop. Customers will be able to bring in their own flags they identify with. The owner says if a flag gets torn down, customers will replace it.

Article Topic Follows: Bend

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Isabella Warren

Isabella Warren is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Isabellahere.


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