Nearly two weeks after a woman was senselessly killed over a Pride flag hanging outside of her shop, some San Bernardino Mountain communities are showing their support for the LGBTQ+ community by flying the flag outside other businesses and even some residences.
After making disparaging remarks about the Pride flag outside her store, Mag Pi, on Aug. 18, officials say Travis Ikeguchi, 27, a Cedar Glen resident, shot and killed 66-year-old Laura Ann Carleton. After the shooting, authorities say Ikeguchi fled the scene on foot but was shot and killed by deputies following a confrontation.
“Every time we see those flags, it feels like that’s a safe space,” Natalie Camunas, with Digital Mountaineers, told KTLA.
In mountain communities like Cedar Glen, Lake Arrowhead and Running Springs, you’ll now find more businesses and some homes decorated with the Pride flag as a show of solidarity and to rally together in the wake of the tragic killing.
At the gastropub Spade & Spatula, there have been past attempts by others to tear the flag down, but the owner, Beverly Eskew, keeps it up, as does Lulubelle’s Coffee House and Bakery in Running Springs. As far as these businesses are concerned, the flag is an emblem of unity, love and equality, one that Carleton, a mother, a successful shop owner and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, flew with pride.
In the wake of her death, many business owners have united and purchased Pride flags and have been handing them out in her honor.
“For two days straight, (the flags) just went fast. There’s been a lot of support. She was kind of like the mom, the glue that kept everybody together,” Eskew said of Carleton.
For Camunas, a queer member of the mountain communities, the incident has been difficult. She moved into the area several years ago and said despite differing political views, she felt safe with her neighbors.
“Then this happened and it kind of just feels like your sense of safety is removed,” she said.
One of the reasons Nathan Hazard hasn’t flown his flag outside his business, Littlebear Bottleshop, is due to safety concerns, but after the tragedy, he decided to put his flag out.
“For me, as a queer business owner, seeing that just across the street in a place where I didn’t expect to see it, that made me feel warm,” he said. “And that’s exactly what that visibility is supposed to do, make everyone feel included, accepted and safe.”
Residents who spoke to KTLA said that hate has no place in their community.
“We’re not afraid, love is always stronger and there’s a lot of love in this community and on this mountain,” Camunas said.
The shooting death of Carleton is being investigated as a hate crime. In the meantime, a memorial fund has been set up by Mountains Provisions Cooperative, an organization founded in part by the 66-year-old.