Community members in the Lake Arrowhead area are planning to distribute free rainbow flags this week – in memory of Lauri Carleton, a 66-year-old shopkeeper shot to death on Friday August 18 by a young man who demanded she take down the store’s Pride flag. Carleton’s husband chased the suspect and tracked him until sheriff’s deputies arrived; the suspect died in a confrontation with officers.
Michael Feddersen, a friend of the victim, said the rainbow flags at Carleton’s ‘Mag.pi’ clothing store in Cedar Glen had been ripped down before.
“When I was at the site of the murder, a really good friend of decades, as he’s crying, he said, ‘I begged her not to put those flags back up,” Feddersen said. “And she refused, and it cost her her life.'”
Carleton was an outspoken ally of the LGBTQ+ community. The group Equality California issued a statement condemning the killing and decrying a sharp increase in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, violence and policies. A recent report from the Anti-Defamation League cited more than 350 incidents of anti-LGBTQ hate and violence in the U.S. from April 2022 to June 2023.
Feddersen added the mountain community is divided between more conservative and more liberal residents. Many, like Carlton, are from Los Angeles and purchased second homes in the area. Feddersen said now mourners are calling on everyone to fly the Pride flag in Carleton’s honor.
“We have been afraid to fly rainbow flag ourselves. We didn’t, because we were scared – and we didn’t want confrontation. But we’re going to fly the rainbow flag,” he explained. “It’s time to take the risk and stand up for what’s right.”