Vandals target pride flags at Homer family planning clinic

a sign
A sign welcomes youth into the REC Room, an arm of the Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic. Pride flags in front of both buildings were vandalized earlier this month. (Sabine Poux/KBBI)

Staff from the Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic traveled to Soldotna earlier this month for the city’s pride festival, an event celebrating for the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month.

When they returned to Homer from the event, they said they found rainbow pride flags in front of their main building and at the adjacent youth center had been vandalized. Now, more than a week later, police say they still don’t have any leads on a suspect.

The vandalism is the latest in a series of threatening incidents at the center, according to CEO Claudia Haines.

“It really reflects poorly on a community that prides itself on being very welcoming and inclusive,” she said.

The Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic is a reproductive and sexual health care clinic on Ben Walters Lane in Homer. The clinic also operates the REC Room — an after-school space for youth ages 12 to 18.

Haines said the rainbow pride flags in front of the clinic and REC Room are meant to signal that the buildings are safe for all.

“And these flags really represent a ‘light in the window,’ and say that members of the LGBTQIA+ community belong at our clinic and after school program,” she said. “And that becomes really important when you’re in such a volatile political and cultural climate.”

She said her staff found the flag in front of the REC Room slashed and shredded, while the one in front of the clinic was cut from the flagpole, which itself had been broken. She said the clinic reported the incident to local police.

Homer Police Officer Kellen Stock said he reviewed the security footage and observed two cars approaching the clinic on multiple nights over the weekend of the incident. According to a police report obtained by KBBI Wednesday, footage shows a Prius driving up to the center around 9:30 p.m. on June 3, and an individual getting out and damaging the flags. The next night, around 12:30 a.m., a Jeep drove up to the center and the same thing occurred, the report said.

Stock said the person in the video was covering their face and head, and said there wasn’t enough information for the person or their vehicles to be identified. As a result, the report said the case is closed by investigation. Stock said anyone with information about the case can report it to the Homer Police Department.

Haines said it’s the first time she’s seen vandalism in her tenure at the clinic. But she said the REC Room and REC Room users were verbally threatened on two separate occasions earlier this year.

Following those incidents, she said the clinic put in its video surveillance system and added in additional security steps to its protocol.

“These kind of incidents that really target members of the LGBTQIA+ community are happening in Homer, happening throughout the state, and of course happening nationally,” Haines said. “And unfortunately when we have incidents like this in Homer, it becomes really personal – whether you’re a member of the LGBTQIA+ community or whether you’re an ally.”

Since last week, the center has put up new pride flags at the clinic and the REC Room.

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