Vandals threw bottles filled with a suspected flammable liquid into an historic gay bar in Laguna Beach, Calif., this week.
Wendy Nelson, owner of the 62-year-old Main Street Bar & Cabaret, on South Coast Highway in Orange County, believes the incident was a hate crime.
The bottles with wicks attached did not ignite but shattered at least seven windows.
“We find the destruction endured this week at Main Street Bar … is no more than a childish hatred for someone or some way of life,” Nelson said, according to Stu News Laguna.
Nelson, who has owned the bar for the last six years, was already struggling to stay afloat given that her business has been closed since March due to the coronavirus shutdown.
“I’m still in awe that someone would do this,” she told the Orange County Register. “It was clearly intentional. That whole building could have gone up.”
Laguna Beach police Sgt. Jim Cota told the Register that responding officers found a bag containing five bottles inside the building on Wednesday.
“Inside the bottles was an unknown liquid, suspected to be flammable,” Cota said. “The bottles were also equipped with burned wicks. Due to the bottles not being of a breakable material, this style of devices did not explode or result in a fire.”
The bar recently underwent renovations and shares a building constructed in 1928 with four other tenants. Nelson learned of the vandalism after a neighboring business owner noticed the shattered windows.
Known for piano, cabaret and beloved female impersonator Endora, the bar has long catered to the gay community. But Nelson said she strives to make it a place for everyone.
“We’ve won Best Drag Show, and we’re open to the whole community, whether you support the gay community, straight community, or the surf community,” she said.