Vandalism at N.Y. LGBT center treated as hate crime

by Michael K. Lavers

National News Editor

Monday February 2, 2009

Suffolk County, New York, police continue to investigate acts of vandalism this weekend that caused more than $5,000 in damage to a Bay Shore LGBT center as a hate crime.

An unknown person (or persons) smashed the Long Island Gay & Lesbian Youth Center's front door and slashed the tires and broke the windows of a van parked in front of the building sometime between late Saturday night and early this morning. Damage to the van alone is more than an estimated $4,000. LIGALY chief executive officer David Kilmnick pointed out to EDGE his organization uses it to transport more than 50 young people to the Center each week to attend a variety of events and programs.

"When an incident of hate happens, it can be anyone," Kilmnick said. "We're not going to let this act stop what we need to do."

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who faced criticism over his initial response to Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero's murder in Patchogue last November, condemned the vandalism.

"This type of attack against the gay community will not be tolerated in Suffolk County."

"This type of attack against the gay community will not be tolerated in Suffolk County," he said in a statement. "Our police department will seek to apprehend any wrongdoer and help ensure that there is swift justice to deter any such activity in the future."

Detective Sgt. Robert Reecks, commanding officer of the Suffolk County Police Hate Crimes Unit, said his officers will continue to investigate the vandalism as a hate crime until proven otherwise.

"We are in the mindset this was done because of the name and location of this establishment," he said.

Kilmnick added he hopes this incident will motivate Long Islanders to "address hate at all levels-including the gay and lesbian community."

"This is certainly a call to action by our community and everyone else," he said.

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.