Police are investigating after a Pride flag at the Lucky Bean Cafe in Stratford, P.E.I., was stolen Monday.
Owner Matthew Clendinning said when he left work around 5 p.m. Monday the flag was on its pole waving. But when he returned around 11 p.m. with some groceries, the flag and the pole were gone.
"Part of me was like, 'Oh, maybe it's just someone from the community that just got a little too excited and grabbed the pole and started flying it around everywhere, doing their own little march,' but unfortunately I don't think that was the case."
In April, Clendinning said he was congratulated by a passerby for taking down the Pride flag at his Montague café, which spurred him to push for more support for the LGBTQ community in Three Rivers.
He said he is "disheartened" that not everyone supports the LGBTQ community, but acts like stealing Pride flags, just make his support stronger.
"I don't want to dwell on my flag being missed or having been stolen. Like, I want to dwell on the fact that none of this is going to stop anything and everything to move forward," he said.
"These acts of hatred and homophobia, they're not going to stand, and we're going to just keep doing what we're doing. We're going to continue to spread rainbows and love, in colour."
Clendinning said it seems there's more support and attention being put on the P.E.I. Pride Festival this year, which is "fantastic."
"But I think it's now also shown the ugly side where there's been flags stolen, there's been flags damaged and vandalized."
Another Pride flag will be put up at his Stratford café, Clendinning said, and this time he's installing a camera to monitor it.
Opportunity to educate
Flag thieves and vandals shouldn't be shamed when caught, but educated, Clendinning said.
"These are closed minded, closed hearted people that maybe need to be shown love," he said. "It's about educating them and trying to hope that they'll open their eyes and their minds and their hearts."
Clendinning thanks Islanders who've joined in celebrating the Pride Festival, and hopes that reports of stolen flags or vandalism will not discourage them.
"I think at the end of any of this, if there ever is one, is that love would win."
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