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Stolen Pride flag prompts community support — and a big flag distribution effort

Rob Wedewer didn't just want to replace the Pride flag stolen off his porch in West St. Paul, so his community helped take it from there.

WEST ST PAUL, Minn. — For the past few years, Rob Wedewer and his family have shown support for their LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors by flying a Pride flag on their porch in West St. Paul.

But it wasn't until that flag disappeared overnight a few days ago, that the family discovered how much Pride exists throughout their community.

"At first, I thought I should replace the flag with something even bigger, but then I thought, you know, we can do something better than that," Wedewer said. "That's only replacing one flag. Let's get the community involved and see if they're willing to participate."

Rob created a Pride flags for West St. Paul GoFundMe page, asking for donations to buy flags for anyone in the community who wants to celebrate Pride or otherwise support the LGBTQ+ community.

"We're six days in and we're just about to $3,000," Wedewer said. "Our initial goal was $2,000."

And money isn't the only thing coming in. A community member helped create a Pride flag request form, and more than 60 neighbors have already asked for one.

"Today I'm supposed to get 40 more poles delivered and another 20 flags," Wedewer said. 

Community members have also volunteered to help deliver the flags and one even helped source them at a discount.

Wedewer: "These came from a woman named Shannon Johnson, who is a member of the West St. Paul Facebook group. She reached out to me and said she'd be happy to supply flags.

Erdahl: "I noticed that your flag isn't back up yet." 

Wedewer: "Nope. My flag is not back up because I feel like I should get people their flags before I give one to myself. My Italian mother was always the type of person that fed everyone first before she sat down to eat, so that's sort of how I am."

That's also why his very first delivery went to a local grandmother, who sent him a touching, personal request.

"Mr. Wedewer. I can't afford to donate, but I'd love to fly a flag. I'm an ally and the theft of your flag touched me. No one should be looked down upon for who they love. I'm a mom a grandma and a great-grandma. Love is love and love does not recognize race, religion or gender."

"She's a great-grandmother and she's as strong an ally as anyone," Wedewer said. "I just think that's fantastic."

And that's something nobody can take away.

"I don't really think about the person that stole the flag," he said. "I think about the response from the community and how they've stepped up and how so many people have sent so many words of encouragement about what's going on here that I think that's the most important part." 

Rob says he's still not sure exactly how much longer the fundraiser and flag distribution will last, but he says any and all money that is left over will be donated through the Minnesota NOW Foundation to the West St. Paul Pride Festival, which will take place on July 7 and 8 this year.


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