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Vandals target Meade Kansas hotel amid flag controversy


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Bricks with profane remarks are thrown through window

By Tim Vandenack

The Hutchinson News

tvandenack@hutchnews.com

MEADE - Someone tossed a brick through a plate glass window early Friday morning at a hotel that is the focus of controversy here because the proprietors hung a rainbow flag out front.

Loren Borger, chief of the Meade Police Department, said no arrests have been made but that police and the Meade County Sheriff's Department are investigating the incident. He suspects a local had a hand in the matter, which occurred sometime between 4:15 and 5:15 in the morning.

J.R. and Robin Knight hung a rainbow flag outside the Lakeway Inn here last month after their 12-year-old son, drawn by its bright colors, sent the banner as a gift from California. The rainbow flag represents gay pride, however, and the move irked some in Meade who are uncomfortable with such a symbol in their midst.

The word "fag" was written on the brick tossed through the window. "Get the -- out of town" was written on a second, which was found on the sidewalk in front of the hotel, according to officials and the Knights.

J.R. Knight expressed dismay. Similarly, officials from the Kansas Equality Coalition, formed to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation, condemned the turn of events.

"These are isolated acts by a few people who don't represent the vast majority of our neighbors and friends," said Anne Mitchell, head of the group's southwest Kansas chapter. "However, this kind of harassment will continue until the good people of the state stand up for their neighbors."

The rainbow flag actually wasn't hanging outside the Lakeway early Friday morning, when officials say the brick was tossed. It had been cut down in the early-morning hours of July 31, and Knight was in the process of fixing the pole so it could accommodate a replacement.

But the hotel proprietor - who has said the decision to fly a flag at the Lakeway should be his and his wife's, not their critics' - finished the repairs and hung a new flag Friday afternoon.

The southwest chapter of the equality coalition is set to have its regular monthly meeting on Sunday at the Lakeway. Though he suspects the meeting itself will be peaceful, Borger said authorities will be attentive to any possible disruptive activity.

08/12/2006; 02:34:21 AM

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The Post Express, my local free rag distributed to commuters in the morning, has a brief article about this with the wonderful headline:

"Anti-Gay or Anti-Munchkin?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

Flag Flap Draws National Attention

August 27 - A small Kansas town is in the national spotlight after it becomes the unlikely scene of a push for gay rights.

On Sunday, dozens of activists showed up at the Lakeway Hotel in Meade. They were there to hold a protest against the rainbow flag hanging outside the hotel. As many as 80 protesters, including members of Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church, demonstrated against the flag. The Kansas Coalition for Equality was also there to hold a meeting and counter protest.

The owner of the hotel, J.R. Knight, put up the flag because his son gave it to him. After weeks of vandalism and verbal attacks, Knight says it may be time to give up the hotel to be with his son in California.

The story is drawing national attention. Knight has been contacted by producers interested in turning the flag story into a movie.

Gray Television Group, Inc. Copyright ? 2002-2006

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