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Vandals remove, destroy Pride flags from downtown Missoula business

Import Market Pride Flag Vandalism
Posted at 3:02 PM, Jun 12, 2024

MISSOULA — Pride month is the celebration of diversity and equity for members of the LGBTQ+ community, and many downtown Missoula businesses celebrate. But one local business was a target of alleged hate crime this week.

Vandals recently removed and then destroyed Pride flags from a downtown Missoula business. Import Market reports on Instagram the flags were removed, torn up, and then defecated on.

According to the business, flags have been hung at Import Market for years to support Pride Month and an incident like this has never happened before.

MTN reached out to the Missoula Police Department which confirmed they are aware of the incident.

No official report has been filed by Import Market at this time, however, the business plans to do so.

The Western Montana LGBTQ+ Community Center sent the following statement to MTN.

"We will not be intimidated. We will not be bullied. We will not let hate win. Come out and support the LGBTQ+ community this weekend at Missoula Pride. Pride is Prevention," Andy Nelson the Executive Director said.

MTN talked with an employee at Import Market who says that this is not a representation of the Missoula community.

"I think that these people lack discipline, they lack love in their hearts. They lack an understanding that we can all be different people and still get along and be a community," Madeline Stevenson said. "And it sucks because Missoula isn't like this and this is not a good representation of our local's behavior now with pride happening this weekend.

Watch an extended interview with Import Market employee Madeline Stevenson below.

EXTENDED INTERVIEW: Madeline Stevenson discusses Pride flags vandalism

- information from Kathryn Roley included in this report

“They decided it was a great idea to urinate on them and then throw them away and, this is basically expressed as a hate crime. My management and the boss — my boss and the owner of this building — are very displeased. They are both in the same family. It's really frustrating. This would happen at all. But during Pride Month, it makes it even worse,” employee Stevenson said.

The question remains, what will happen next? Stevenson said that even though there are just three employees, filing a police report will happen.

“And as a result, it's caused a lot of — it's raised a lot of eyebrows and people have been asking about how we reported this to police. Are we going to find these people? Are we going to bring them to justice? And of course, the answer for all of this is yes, it's just the fact that we are — it's just me, just her and then her husband — who are all working. It's just us. And so because of this, we have a lot of things we need to work on anyway. This is just another thing to add to the pile, but we are going to take care of it." - Import Market employee Madeline Stevenson

The flags are gone and ripped down, but Stevenson says that although the flags are gone she is disappointed in the thoughts and actions by this group.

“Unfortunately, that requires people to feel the need to project their insecurities, their grievances with different social issues by destroying property and doing so. That is like as disrespectful as it could possibly be. And it's a shame. I think that these people lack discipline, they lack love in their hearts,” Stevenson said.