LGBT community centers see wave of vandalism across the country

It’s part of the broader wave of hate that has spread across the country since the election.

CREDIT: Garden State Equality
CREDIT: Garden State Equality

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.

CREDIT: LA LGBT Center
CREDIT: LA LGBT Center

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.

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The month before that, the LGBT Center of Central Pennyslvania, located just a block away from the capitol in Harrisburg, was also attacked. The glass door was smashed in, and a donation bin with a small amount of cash was also stolen.

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The center responded to the incident with love instead of hate. They hosted an open house party at the center just a day later with the theme, “Throw Parties, Not Bricks.”

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.