Flag taken from local business despite some positive reaction
Protests, marches and walks continue to take place globally in response to recent police brutality against people of color, most notably the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while in police custody two weeks ago in Minneapolis, Minn.
Myers Hotel Bar in Tonganoxie publicly joined that conversation when owners started flying a Black Lives Matter flag on the establishment’s east side.
Three days later, it was gone.
Owners Kate Frick and Stephanie Marchesi unfurled the flag May 30. The Tonganoxie couple noticed it flying the morning of June 2, but later in the day it was gone.
Marchesi said a few people had let them know that the flag appeared to be pulled down, from pedestrians out for a stroll to Tonganoxie police on routine patrol.
Whether the wind or people altered the flag’s position, the BLM flag no longer was flying June 1. The owners filed a police report, but haven’t noticed any additional signs of theft or other actions.
Marchesi said public response to flying the flag was encouraging.
“The response was really positive from everyone,” she said. “They appreciated that we were flying the flag.”
Some local youth even responded to the flag’s removal.
Siblings Maddie, Ella and Lily created a homemade Black Lives Matter flag for MHB and gave it to the Frick and Marchesi on Sunday night.
It now hangs above the establishment’s portico facing Main Street.
Marches and walks, whether Black Lives Matter protests in Lawrence, Topeka and Kansas City, Mo., or Saturday’s Unity Walk in Leavenworth, have been taking place throughout the area.
“Everyone’s doing walks,” Marchesi said. “We haven’t done one here. We have to do better than that, no matter how small the community.”
The establishment had been offering the MHB Cinema Series for about a year in the historic venue at Third and Main streets, featuring a wide range of movies with diversity in directors, actors and themes. Some of the films provide story lines about people not always portrayed in American movies.
For instance, last year MHB showed “Moonlight,” the 2016 critically acclaimed film from director Barry Jenkins following the lead character navigating his identity from childhood to adulthood as an LGBTQ person of color. Jenkins made history as the first black person nominated for Academy Awards for best director, best screenplay and then best picture all in the same year (2017).
“Moonlight” garnered eight nominations. It won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali). MHB showed the film during pride month last June.
The establishment also sponsored a Pride Prom in 2018 and another event celebrating the LGBTQ community last year.
Marchesi and Frick hope to celebrate again this month in some form with it again being Pride Month, as the business joins others in slowly re-opening as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Members of the LGBTQ community themselves, the couple is focused on providing a comfortable environment.
“We’re trying to create a space where all walks of life are welcome,” Marchesi said, noting that patrons generally are a mix of Tonganoxie, Lawrence and KC residents. “It’s been a priority for us.”
Though the COVID-19 pandemic has postponed offering that space again in person, Marchesi and Frick continue to focus that inclusivity on the Black Lives Matter movement.
The owners will continue to show support with some sort of BLM signage — out of the reach of passersby — while also being in a prominent space where the donated flag now is situated.
“Kate is working on making a more permanent sign,” Marchesi said.