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Boreal Community Media

Pride flags stolen, damaged, at multiple businesses in downtown Grand Marais ahead of weekend events

Jun 12, 2023 04:43AM ● By Content Editor
Photo: Laura Durenberger-Grunow

By Laura Durenberger-Grunow - Boreal Community Media - June 9, 2023

On Wednesday, June 8, around 8:00 pm, Sarah Jorgenson of Java Moose posted a video to the shop's social media channels with the caption: "To whomever thought it was okay to steal something off of private property."

The video goes on to share that someone had stolen the shop's Pride flag earlier that evening. Jorgenson says "It [the flag] was here this morning, this afternoon, and this evening. What's missing? Who stole our Pride flag?"

The video ends with Jorgenson asking for the flag back, and expressing her disappointment in the actions that took place. 

After the video was published, community members and visitors flooded the comments with words of support, and a few that weren't. 

One of those community members who saw the video was Kjersa Anderson, who works in Marketing and POS at the Cook County Co-op. According to a Cook County Co-op video posted this afternoon, Anderson said she woke up with a feeling this morning that the store's Pride flag may be gone.

(Last year, the co-op received feedback regarding hanging a pride flag outside. WTIP North Shore Community Radio did an interview about the comment, which you can find here. )

Even though it was her day off, she went down to the Co-op to check, and sure enough, the flag had been ripped down. 

The video continues with Anderson walking into the building, pointing the camera at another Pride flag hanging inside the doors. "You forgot one," she says. "And there's a camera right there," she added as the video turns to a security camera on the wall.

The Cook County Co-op selected the Cook County Pride Committee as their June round-up organization. This means that any time a customer checks out, they have the option to "round up" their purchase to the nearest dollar. 100% of the monthly round-up money goes to the selected organization. 

"It's still the beginning of June and we've raised **a lot** of money for Pride via our round-up at the register program," she said. 

Kjersa added that after she posted the video on the Co-op's social media channels, like Jorgenson's, an outpouring of positive comments started flooding in. 

"I know whoever stole [the flag] wants us to be afraid - and I know that we'll do whatever we can to keep us and our queer friends & family safe - but some stolen property doesn't take the wind out of our sails," Anderson said. 

Another community entity that saw Jorgenson's initial video was Hungry Hippie Tacos. Someone from the organization commented on the video saying that they've had their flags vandalized. The comment went on to add that they have ordered more, and offered to order a new one for Java Moose. 

Upon talking with Hungry Hippie Tacos, they shared that they put up the flags for the first time earlier this week. The very next day, "The flag poles were broken and the flags were in the dirt. They haven't stolen the flags, yet, but it's like a daily chore at this point - rehanging the flags." 

But like the other two entities, Hungry Hippie Tacos has experienced positive community support. 

"Some kind person rehung them for us this morning," they said. 

Carly Puch, a member of the Cook County Pride Committee who sponsors and posts the annual Pride celebration, said "I can’t deny feeling disheartened by the stolen flags but at the end of the day, the ironic thing about a stolen pride flag is that it only makes me want to fighter harder for equity. And the fact that businesses have already replaced their flag or gotten a bigger one, is a sign that this community will continue to march on."

As far as the Pride events this weekend, Cook County Sheriff Pat Eliasen told Boreal Community Media that there will be "An increased police presence at the movie tonight, and the Pride events tomorrow."

If someone has information that would lead to the arrest of anyone involved in the theft of the pride flags, they can call 218-387-3030. You may remain anonymous.

The thefts would be misdemeanors and they are punishable with a maximum fine of $700, and/or 90 days in jail. 

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