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Threatening note left beside Pride flags damaged outside Tillsonburg business

Police are investigating after a threatening message was left outside a business in Tillsonburg, Ont., on the same night its Pride flags were slashed.

Warning: This contains language some may find disturbing

These Pride flags outside Kelly Spencer's business were slashed and discolored overnight on Monday. This damage was accompanied by a threatening letter. (Kelly Spencer/Facebook)

Police are investigating after a threatening, homophobic message was left outside a business in Tillsonburg, Ont., on the same night its Pride flags were slashed. 

On Monday night, Kelly Spencer posted on social media a photo showing Pride flags flying outside her business, the Indigo Lounge and Wellness Centre. 

She arrived to work on Tuesday morning to discover the flags had been slashed, poked with holes and discoloured. 

But worse than the damage to the flags was a letter left behind. It was sealed in a plastic bag and fastened to the fence. 

It was addressed to: "Faggot supporter and/or faggot." 

It said: "If you continue to support faggots, this flag will be an allegory of what your house will end up to be." 

It was signed "sincerely" with an indecipherable initial. 

"It was awful, straight up awful," said Spencer about finding the message on the fence outsider her business the next day.  "This was a well thought-out hate crime." 

Spencer filed a complaint with the Oxford County Ontario Provincial Police who are investigating but wouldn't share any details when contacted by CBC News on Tuesday. 

Spencer describes her business as a safe space for members of the LGBTQ community. She also says she flew the Pride flags last year without incident. 

"The flags can be replaced and they will, but we have staff here and customers here who are in that community and who saw the flags and it's horrifying," said Spencer. 

The incident comes during what appears to be a rash of incidents involving the removal or destruction of Pride flags in rural areas of southwestern Ontario. 

A person was charged after Pride flags were removed in Norwich township, located just 20 kilometres from Tillsonburg. 

People in the town of Minto, Ont., in Wellington County are supporting the local LGBTQ community after Pride decorations were cut up and destroyed in acts of vandalism that police are calling hate-motivated crimes.

"I'm not sure why there's such a huge voice for hate right now," said Spencer. "I had these flags up last year and never received anything about it."

This is the outside of a letter that was posted near the flags. (Kelly Spencer/Facebook)

Spencer said police advised her to get surveillance cameras to help prevent another incident. 

Spencer is involved with the local chamber of commerce and BIA and said she's been speaking with those groups — and Mayor Stephen Molnar — about the incident. 

"It is my goal to not allow any more hate with this but to find some way to inspire change," she said. "Everybody has been more than supportive." 

She intends to hold a meeting with community leaders to address the issue.

"If we're not calling this out and speaking up against it ... then we are silently allowing it," she said. "These are scary for people and we need to stand up for humanity and for love." 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Lupton is a B.C.-born journalist, father of two and a north London resident with a passion for politics, photography and baseball.

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