Pride display fixed within hours after vandalism

Last August a rainbow over Jackson Beach closed out the San Juan Island Foundation’s Pride Festival, a festival that far exceeded attendance expectations. The 2023 event takes place during Pride month at the Fairgrounds June 17 from 4-10 p.m.

“This year is going to be even bigger,” Deane Osborne, President of the foundation said.

A group of young islanders painted The Rock, located on property owned by Lake Edna Estates HOA, Friday, May 26, displaying the date and time of the festival, along with both a Pride and Trans Flag, and finished it off with their hand prints.

At some point on Sunday, May 28 someone vandalized the painting with hate speech.

Early in the morning, someone had covered the ugly words over with black, but by two that afternoon, between six to a dozen community members had repainted the flags with paint donated by Brownes Lumber. The original spray paint was donated by Ace Hardware.

The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident.

Sheriff Eric Peter issued a statement from the scene, “I am extremely disappointed and disheartened that this is roughly a handful of incidents that I have seen in our community …since I’ve lived here…. We will not let the hateful acts of a few control us. Love will always win over hate and intolerance.”

Peter told the Journal later he was overwhelmed by the positive response he received both on social media and in person.

“People have thanked me for standing up,” Peter said. He said he wanted to reassure those saying please investigate, that all police reports are investigated. “If we get information we will follow up on it,” Peter added. Tthe Sheriff’s Office is currently collecting statements from those willing to make them.

For those wanting to help, Peter responded that in this case, and others, the biggest action people can take is say something when they see something.

“I would like people to report things when they see it. Throughout my career, people have told me they didn’t want to say anything because they did not want to get someone in trouble. My response is that you did not get them in trouble, their actions did.”

Whatever the outcome of the investigation, Osborne said she encourages the community to attend the festival June 17 as a way to both show support for the LGBTQIA community. A high turn out would also illustrate to the perpetrators their words and actions do not represent the island community and will not be tolerated.

“Come to the festival, show love is stronger,” Osborne said.

Heather Spaulding  Staff photo
Community members working to fix the vandalized Pride flag.
Heather Spaulding  Staff photo
Community members and Sheriff Eric Peter working to fix the vandalized Pride flag.
Heather Spaulding  Staff photo
Community members working to fix the vandalized Pride flag.