Police in Tempe, Arizona are investigating the burning of a Pride flag outside of the city hall building. The incident comes just months after a bomb threat targeted a local LGBTQ+-owned coffee shop.
The city chose to hang a Progress Pride flag with the Tempe logo alongside the American, Arizona, and Juneteenth flags on the flagpole outside of city hall, but police say someone took it down and set it on fire.
City Manager Andrew Ching condemned the vandalism: “This act of aggression does not represent our community. Hate has no place in Tempe. We are committed to championing diversity, inclusion, and equity and ensuring that our community is safe and welcoming for everyone.”
The city has since replaced the pride flag and repaired damage to the burned flag pole.
The hateful act comes on the same day that an LGBTQ+ ‘State of emergency’ was declared, and just months after a bomb threat targeted an LGBTQ+-owned coffee shop in the same area, an investigation that the FBI recently took over.
In February, Brick Road Coffee hosted its first Story Time Drag Show with a focus on Black History Month. About 20 minutes into the show, everyone attending had to be evacuated by police after receiving a bomb threat.
“That was an unfortunate instance of hate,” co-founder Gabe Hagen said about the incident. “It’s just misguided unfortunately and that’s disappointing to see.”
The incident has now been turned over to the FBI for investigation. No bomb was found at the site, but detectives said a far-right extremist group was seen near the shop on the day the threat was made.
Hagan and his partner did not let the hateful act stop them from continuing their business.
“Showing people that we are not backing down is the greatest way we can kind of stand for our support for the community,” Hagen said.
Hagen said their online sales skyrocketed with people buying merchandise and coffee in response to the incident.