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Kalispell bookstore raises money for LGBTQ inclusivity after vandalism

by CHAD SOKOL
Daily Inter Lake | July 13, 2021 12:00 AM

A Kalispell bookstore is raising money for LGBTQ inclusivity after someone smashed a store window and ripped down a pride flag that hung inside.

The owners of The Bookshelf, at 101 S. Main St., say someone broke a large window facing First Street East the night of July 4 or morning of July 5, tore down the flag and left it crumpled on the floor. There was no evidence of theft, leading some to suspect the vandalism could have been motivated by hate or intolerance.

"It's hard not to feel that way," said Kyle Fort, who has run the business with his wife, Mary Wolf, for about seven years. "Two full walls of my bookstore are windows, and that was the only one that was broken. The flag was intentionally torn down and thrown on the ground."

While they couldn't be certain why their business was targeted, Fort and Wolf are using the opportunity to support the LGBTQ community by raising money for local groups Love Lives Here and the Glacier Queer Alliance. They set up a Venmo account — username Bookshelf406 — and had raised nearly $500 as of Monday, Fort said.

A 34-year-old woman, Christina L. Sanchez, was arrested July 5 on suspicion of breaking the window and scratching or "keying" 11 vehicles in the area. She also is accused of smashing a restroom mirror at a gas station along U.S. 93, bringing the total property damage to more than $10,000, according to charging documents.

Sanchez remained in the Flathead County Detention Center on Monday facing a charge of felony criminal mischief. Charging documents do not mention a motive for the crimes.

The Bookshelf is working to get the window replaced. In the meantime, a piece of plywood hangs there, painted with a heart shape filled in with rainbow stripes.

Fort sees a silver lining; he said he's heard from many people and had many positive conversations about LGBTQ inclusivity in the wake of the incident.

"It encourages me, I guess, that the end result of this is a lot of positive things," he said.

Assistant editor Chad Sokol may be reached at 406-758-4439 or csokol@dailyinterlake.com.