More than 100 rally against vandalism at LGBT Community Center

by Michael K. Lavers

National News Editor

Thursday April 22, 2010

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was among the more than 100 people who rallied outside the LGBT Community Center in lower Manhattan on Wednesday, April 21, to denounce those who burned a gay flag and placed it outside the West 13th Street building.

"What we are doing here today is sending a message to that coward who is way too scared to show his or her own face that we are not going away," said Quinn. "We're not going to get out of his or her face and we're never gonna to be pushed out of our city."

City Comptroller John Liu, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Anti-Violence Project executive director Sharon Stapel, rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker and Councilmembers Daniel Dromm [D-Jackson Heights] and Rosie Mendez [D-Lower East Side] were among those who also took part.

"It makes a wonderful statement for the community and it's important to show strength," said Center spokesperson Jeff Klein.

Center staff discovered a burned rainbow flag draped over a poster in the front of the building on April 14. The New York Police Department told EDGE their investigation into the incident continues, but this vandalism, which Glennda Testone, executive director of the Center, and others have described as a hate crime, is the latest in a series of anti-LGBT attacks and incidents that have sparked outrage across the five boroughs in recent weeks. These include the near fatal beating of Jack Price in College Point in Oct. 2009. And the case of the five men who attacked a 22-year-old man last month in Brooklyn.

The rally coincided with the second day of the trial of the two men who allegedly beat Ecuadorian immigrant Josť SucuzhaŮay to death on a Brooklyn street corner in Dec. 2008. Quinn specifically referenced this case at the end of her remarks.

"Individuals attacked him and his brother because he was Latino and they thought Josť was gay," she said. That is what hate crimes can lead to: literally people being beaten to death in the streets of New York. And by standing here today, we are saying we will not tolerate that for people perceived to be LGBT, for people who are disabled, for people of color, for people based on their religion, for any factor."

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.