A message from David Kilmnick about the arrests made in the Vandalism of The Center.
The Network is relieved to announce that arrests have been made in connection with the recent vandalism of our Center in Bay Shore. Late Monday, three men and one woman were arrested by the Suffolk County Police Department.
We are grateful to the Suffolk County Police Department for their efficient and serious dedication to the events that so viscerally affected our community and our allies. We are also grateful to the attention and heartfelt words of Governor David Paterson, Commissioner of the State Division of Human Rights Galen Kirkland, Congressman Steve Israel and Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy who quickly came out in support of our organization and Long Island’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community.
Over three years ago, two of the four people arrested were former clients of LIGALY. The individuals regularly displayed inappropriate and disruptive behavior toward staff and other clients. This behavior made many of our clients feel unsafe, and the organization responded appropriately by discharging them from our services. We are saddened to hear that the individuals arrested continued to act out in hatred and violence, as these attacks illustrate.
While the vandalism is no longer being investigated as a bias crime, we feel that the investigation and the attention paid to these crimes by public officials and media was appropriate. Vandalism of this magnitude is intended to send a message of fear. The Center stands as the most public declaration of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender pride on Long Island. As the most visible symbol of GLBT presence and pride, the vandalism was indeed interpreted and felt as an attack on these already vulnerable communities.
Due to the presence and words of Commissioner Kirkland, and the visibility our community found in the media, we have been inundated with calls from community members voicing stories that eerily echo the attacks on our Center. Youth have detailed the intense bullying they endure in their schools and communities, families have spoken about attacks on their homes and seniors have called with stories of feeling unsafe in nursing homes. People across the ages have expressed the fear and intimidation that affect their lives daily. Clearly, the work of LIGALY, The Center and SAGE-LI is needed more than ever to create a safer Long Island for all GLBT people and families.
The staff, board, clients, and volunteers of LIGALY, the Center and SAGE-LI would all like to express our most heartfelt thanks to the Suffolk County Police Department, elected officials, and the many people who called and visited our Center with messages of concern and hope for a brighter future. In the face of these attacks, LIGALY, The Center and SAGE-LI will continue to be a visible presence on Long Island for years to come.