LGBT Community Centers See Wave of Vandalism Across the Country
by Zack Ford –
It’s part of the broader wave of hate that has spread across the country since the election.
Over the past two months, various LGBT centers have been targeted with vandalism. Fortunately, the attacks on these important resource spaces and gathering places have not resulted in anyone being hurt, but the damage is real.
The latest pair of incidents took place this week in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center. Shortly after midnight Monday morning, a white four-door truck drove past the center and fired multiple shots across the front door and windows of the center. Tulsa police recovered 13 pellets, but fortunately they did not penetrate the reinforced glass.
It was the first time in the center’s 12-year history that it was targeted for a serious act of vandalism. Monday afternoon, a man then entered the Equality Center and began yelling at the staff, volunteers, and patrons. According to Executive Director Toby Jenkins, he “just started cussing us out,” using abusive language and saying, “I wish you would all die.” He ran away, flipping off the staff as he fled.
This past weekend, the offices of New Jersey’s LGBT advocacy organization were also attacked. On Saturday afternoon, two men were walking past Garden State Equality’s headquarters when one of them kicked in the door, shattering the glass. The organization had just moved its headquarters to Asbury Park last summer. Many lawmakers, including Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), spoke out against the attack, calling it an “act of hate.”
The two attacks this weekend follow a trend at other centers in recent months.
In February, the Los Angeles LGBT Center was hit with a graffiti attack that included various anti-LGBT slurs.
Though the LA LGBT Center has been targeted before, staff called it the worst case of vandalism in recent history. The graffiti was painted over by the next morning.
Diverse & Resilient, an LGBT community center in Milwaukee, saw similar vandalism that same week. Anti-LGBT slurs had been spray-painted all across the front of the building. It was the third time in two months that the center had been vandalized.
Sadly we have once again been hit by anti LGBTQ graffiti. We remain resilient and will carry on with our work. This has been reported to the police and the Southern Poverty Law Center. We are a loving crew here, just send us your loving thoughts! #WeAreStrongerThanHate
Overnight, someone smashed the glass window to the front door of the LGBT Center of Central PA office in Harrisburg, entered, took a donation bin with a small amount of cash, and left. No one was in the Center at the time. Harrisburg police are investigating the incident. As we work on moving forward from this disruptive act, the LGBT Center remains open, welcoming, safe, and steadfast in its mission to create common ground for the LGBT community and its allies by providing services through educational, cultural, and community activities that foster wholeness. In turn, the leaders of the LGBT Center and its board of directors appreciate the community’s continued support of our goals. For more information about the LGBT Center at 1306 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg, and the communities we serve, please visit www.centralpalgbtcenter.org.
These incidents are all part of a wave of incidents of hate that followed the election in November. ThinkProgress carefully tracked these incidents for three months and found that about one out of every seven incidents targeted LGBTQ people.