‘It’s frustrating’: Owner reacts to Pride flag being vandalized outside downtown Edmonton lounge

Click to play video: 'Nightclub owner reacts to Pride flag vandalism in downtown Edmonton'
Nightclub owner reacts to Pride flag vandalism in downtown Edmonton
Edmonton police are looking for three people accused of removing and damaging a Pride flag outside a central Edmonton business on April 2. Police released this surveillance video in hopes of identifying the suspects – Apr 13, 2024

Edmonton police have released video they hope will help identify suspects involved in a hate-motivated crime.

The Edmonton Police Service said three people removed and damaged a Pride flag that was displayed outside a central Edmonton business.

In a news release, police said it happened shortly before 11 p.m. on April 2.

Police said two men and a woman were walking southbound on 103 Street towards 102 Avenue when they stopped in front of Evolution Wonderlounge and ripped down the pride flag. Police said the pole attached to the front of the business was also damaged.

The suspects then threw the flag into a nearby garbage can and left the scene on foot.

“This was the first time that it felt clearly hate-motivated. They just ripped down the flag and immediately tossed it into the garbage,” said Rob Browatzke, co-owner of Evolution Wonderlounge. “They walked under another flag and didn’t take it down, but stopped at the Pride flag. It felt like there was a stronger motivation, especially given what’s happening in the province right now.”

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“It’s frustrating, it’s annoying,” Browatzke continued. “We try to present ourselves as a safe space. We still firmly believe that downtown is a safe neighbourhood. Sadly this is just happening more and more often and I feel like it’s happening everywhere in Alberta right now.”

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Browatzke said his lounge has been the target of graffiti in the past and rocks have been thrown through windows.

As part of the investigation, police are releasing security footage from the area. They said the EPS hate crimes unit is investigating the incident because “officers believe the removal of the flag was an act targeting the 2SLGBTQ+ community,” police said.

“I certainly feel like things are escalating but I still think for the most part Albertans and Edmontonians are inclusive and progressive and welcoming,” Browatzke said.

“It’s important for police to investigate these types of instances because they can quickly escalate,” said criminologist Dan Jones. “It’s very clear they targeted that flag and we all know what that flag represents.”

“I would expect police are looking to see if there are other similar incidents in that area and whether or not they can lay charges,” Jones continued.

Police are circulating security footage from the area in the hope that someone may be able to identify the suspects.

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Edmonton police create an easier way to report hate crimes

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