In the final week of Pride Month, two LGBTQ+ centers in Ohio experienced major vandalism to their property, one with a spray-painted racist slur.
Colors+ Youth Center opened their new space in Fairview Park on June 18, a substantial expansion to 3,500 square feet to further fulfill their mission of strengthening LGBTQ+ youth and allies by promoting individual and community wellness.
During the night of June 30th, an act of vandalism resulted in their front windows being smashed in and the n-word spray-painted on the brick wall adjacent to the windows.
Kristen Pepera, co-founder of Colors+, said there was a Black Lives Matter flag hanging in the window.
Based on surveillance footage, police arrested 30-year-old Michael Freshwater of Fairview Park on July 1 and charged him with multiple felony counts. He is also believed to be responsible for similar racist graffiti found a few blocks away on the side of Fairview Shopping Center On June 12.
Pepera said nothing inside the Colors+ space appeared to have been damaged.
“We knew this was a possibility with more visibility, but more than anything we want youth to know that we’re not going anywhere,” Pepera said. “Black lives matter. Trans Lives Matter. LGBTQ+ lives matter. We will continue to fight to have a safe space for LGBTQ+ youth and families.”
In Columbus, one of the doors of Stonewall Columbus was smashed during the night of June 25th.
Executive director Densil Porteous said he doesn’t believe that the incident was directly targeted at the LGBTQ+ community but that he was disheartened that someone in the Columbus community would express themselves through he destruction of property.
“In particular we call out that this destructive act happened to the LGBTQ+ community center during Pride month; while it did not slow our celebration and recognition of Pride, it does produce an unexpected financial obligation for our nonprofit to meet,” Porteous said.
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