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Protest fizzles at Bellingham sex shop following recent vandalism

Wink Wink Boutique has been targeted by vandalism and harassment in recent weeks.

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — A handful of protesters, some from out of town, gathered outside Bellingham's Wink Wink Boutique ready for a confrontation.

Some held American flags, another carried a bullhorn.

However, they appeared to be fooled when the storeowner didn't show up.

A handwritten sign was taped outside the shop saying the store was closed, thanking customers for their support after an attack by vandals Sunday morning.

A security camera inside the store captured five young men throwing rocks through storefront windows.

"It feels incredibly violating," said Mason. "This is supposed to be a safe space for us as a staff, and our community."

Wink Wink has come under attack after reports the store's owner was offering sex education classes to children as young as 9 years old.

"I've had death threats," said owner Jenn Mason. "I've had people call my phone, mention my home address and say that they're coming after me. They've shown up at the store intimidating our employees."

Mason is an elected, two-term Bellingham school board member.

She concedes she offers classes to kids between the ages of 9 and 17 but said they are age-appropriate, voluntary, and parents were the one who requested classes for 9- to 12-year-olds.

"Children have questions at that age. Some have even started going through puberty," said Mason. "I think we should be teaching sex education the way we teach anything else. We don't wait for kids to learn math the wrong way and then correct what they've learned wrong. We help them get it right from the start."

On Wednesday, about a half-dozen people stood outside the store accusing the owner of everything from pedophilia to smashing her own windows as a publicity stunt. 

Some said they were part of the anti-vaccine mandate group The People's Convoy, others the offshoot 1776 Restoration Movement.

None were available to speak with KING 5 on camera.

Across the street, the Wink Wink storefront stood boarded up.

Earlier, community members painted a mural on the plywood in support, as Mason told KING 5 the classes would go on later that day in an undisclosed location.

"We don't negotiate with bullies. The classes are still going to happen," said Mason. "This is important work. This is work that families want and we will deliver."

A spokesperson for the Bellingham School District told KING 5, "Our school board members are elected by voters. There is no connection between this board member’s store and the school district. Events/classes at the store are not connected to the school district or any of our schools."

In the meantime, support for Wink Wink continues to grow with two online fundraisers raising more than $15,000.

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