The Student News Site of Central Oregon Community College

The Broadside

The Student News Site of Central Oregon Community College

The Broadside

The Student News Site of Central Oregon Community College

The Broadside

7 pride flags repeatedly stolen from Turtle Island Coffee, downtown Bend coffee shop

Ash McCown
The outside of Turtle Island Coffee which has the pride flag up.

Bend’s first queer and indigenous owned coffee shop, Turtle Island Coffee, opened last June 2023 in downtown Bend. Since their opening, the business has had their progressive pride flag torn down from the front of their business seven times.

The Broadside spoke with co-owner Beth Brady regarding the thefts.

The flag was originally put up in June 2023 while renovations to the building were still taking place, and had been tampered with twice, and stolen once before the business even opened to the public. After opening, four more flags were stolen in 2022, and then twice in February 2024.

According to the three security cameras of the shop, the thefts or vandalism occur at night, usually from around 11 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.

Since last year, the business has received numerous donations from the community in order to replace the flags and to support the business. Turtle island coffee now has a vinyl material flag hung like a banner at the front of the building, rather than on a flagpole.

“We’ve been getting outrageously positive support from our community… but [as for the people stealing our flags] we could just call them bigots. There’s a good amount of bigots in this town that for whatever reason, just don’t want us to be here. Don’t approve of the community, making space and being safe,” said Brady.

“Central Oregon is a polarized place,” they added.

Azure Thompson, speaking from their perspective as an employee and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, described the most recent incident as intentional, saying, “The most recent one seemed pretty intentional, like they came from across the street, running directly towards us. So that one feels a little strange; the first couple were just drunk people being drunk people. This most recent one was targeted.”

A cup of coffee from Turtle Island Coffee. (Ash McCown)

Thompson also said, “We got a two-star review from someone complaining about us not respecting their Christian lifestyle.”

Regarding law enforcement’s response, Thompson said, “We did talk to Bend PD after the last two incidents. I’m not sure if they have actually done anything or made any progress on it, but that’s all we can do.”

Thompson expressed frustration over the incidents, emphasizing the importance of Turtle Island Coffee as a dedicated space for the LGBTQ community; “It’s the only space that is dedicated to us, so it just seems kind of childish that people can’t let us have it.”

The situation at Turtle Island Coffee underscores the ongoing challenges faced by the LGBTQ community in Bend and the need to promote inclusivity and respect for all individuals.

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About the Contributors
Miina McCown
Miina McCown, Editor in chief
Miina McCown is editor in chief of The Broadside.
Ash McCown
Ash McCown, Staff photographer
Ash McCown is a photographer for The Broadside. He is working towards an AAOT in mathematics, but also wants to take classes in many different areas to find what suits him best. Some things he enjoys doing in his free time are going bouldering, drawing, reading, listening to music and taking photos.

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