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Poulsbo police search for suspect responsible for slashing nearly a dozen Pride banners

POULSBO, Wash. — Poulsbo police are searching for the suspect responsible for slashing nearly a dozen Pride banners during Pride Month.

INVESTIGATION:

Poulsbo Police Chief Ron Harding told KIRO 7 News his officers first received calls about the vandalism on Saturday at about 3:45 p.m.

The banners were recently put up before the incident, Harding added.

There’s currently no evidence to indicate this was a hate crime, the chief said, but detectives believe this vandalism was motivated by hate.

Officers did not share any details on a possible suspect as of Monday.

If anyone has information that can help detectives find the person responsible for the damage, you’re asked to call 911.

POULSBO PRIDE:

KIRO 7 News spoke with Natalie Artemyeff, a board member of Poulsbo Pride, which helped the City of Poulsbo put up the banners for Pride month.

“It’s overwhelming. It was a real emotional roller coaster,” Artemyeff said. “It was devastating.”

Artemyeff said the banners were created after last year’s Pride flags, which were placed closer to the street, were stolen.

“More of them started disappearing. We started finding some of them on the side of the road. That sort of thing. We knew it was vandalism,” she said.

The colorful banners are aimed, in part, to support the youth within the LGBTQ community hoping to prevent youth suicide, Artemyeff told KIRO 7 News.

“These are much more than just banners. On the community level, this is a form of youth suicide prevention,” she shared. “This is support of a huge demographic of people who live here.”

KIRO 7 News also spoke with residents within the Poulsbo community about the damage.

“I feel angry. I feel frightened,” Pam Keeley, a resident, said. “When you see an act of violence like this, everybody feels impacted to some degree.”

Sandie Dickson, the owner of The Curious Child, said her surveillance video captured a person early Saturday morning that police believe is responsible for the vandalism.

“So upset, angry and disappointed and sad because they (banners) had only been up for 24 hours,” she said.

Dickson said the vandalism reminded her of last year’s alleged incident during Pride Month where someone from the community allegedly wrote a letter to businesses showing they did not support last year’s Pride flags.

Dickson said several workers at the store, who are part of the LGBTQ community, believe the slashed banners were motivated by hate.

“We’ve always been here. We’re always going to be here. We’re not going away. We’re really no different. We’re not hurting anybody, and we just want people to love and accept,” she said.

Artemyeff told KIRO 7 News that she did not want the banners to be taken down because she wanted people to see the stitching showing there is support for the LGBTQ community.

Logan, who lives in Poulsbo, saw the damage when he was walking down the street.

He stitched the slashed Pride banners back together on Saturday afternoon after purchasing pink yarn from a local yarn shop, he said.

“It made me a little sad because I know we had some issues getting approval for things like that in the past. And I was excited when I saw them at first, but when we walked up, they were all slashed,” he said.

“I just didn’t want to see them like that. I know something probably would’ve been done, but they might’ve been taken down. As the symbol for the flag, leaving them like that would have been a bad taste. More than anything, I wanted to make it shows we’re here. We aren’t going anywhere.”

POULSBO:

KIRO 7 News reached out to Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson about the vandalism. We’re still waiting to hear back.

Britt Livdahl, a Poulsbo city councilmember, said the council had unanimously approved $3,500 for the banners and is planning to purchase new ones.

“The ones (council members) I have been able to speak to, the same feelings. We’re angry. We’re upset, disappointed in whatever a member of this community has decided to take this action, but we’re determined to not let it stop what we do,” she said. “We care as much as we always have, but maybe more. This continues to shed light on all of the work that is still needed.”

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