On April 14, staff members of the LGBT Community Center, on West 13th Street in Manhattan, arrived to find a burned rainbow flag, being interpreted as a threatening message of hate, hanging from a display case in front of the building. According to Center Executive Director Glennda Testone, the incident has been reported to the New York Police Department and the Anti-Violence Project and is being treated, and investigated, as a hate crime.
That evening, Testone told Center members, "This morning our building staff arrived and discovered a burned rainbow flag hanging on one of the poster display cases outside our building. We called the NYPD, and they immediately dispatched detectives from the hate crimes unit and our local precinct. We also contacted the Anti-Violence Project, and the crime is currently under investigation.
"We at the Center strive to be a safe space for our community and a beacon of inclusion and hope for the entire city. It is sad that these incidents still happen in this day and age, but rest assured we will do everything in our power to make sure our community is safe."
She concluded, "We are asking anyone who has additional information about the crime to contact the police directly at 1-800/577-TIPS."
"This hate crime perpetrated against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center is a cowardly attempt at intimidation, and it will not be tolerated," said Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. "The burning of a rainbow flag-a proud symbol of the LGBT movement-should be taken as seriously as if the American flag had been desecrated."
Congressman Jerrold Nadler, from New York's Eighth District, in Manhattan, which includes Chelsea and Greenwich Village, said, "I was appalled to learn of the recent hate crime at the LGBT Center. Burning a rainbow flag and placing it in front of the Center's entrance is a cowardly act clearly intended to intimidate members of the LGBT community. As a proud sponsor of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was signed into law last fall, I deeply believe there is no place in our society for such hateful treatment of human beings, especially not for their sexual orientation or gender identity."
The LGBT Community Center was established in 1983 and is home to numerous organizations, programs and services. Testone added, "Hate and intolerance against LGBT New Yorkers will not be accepted, and we as a community must stand strong and together in the face of these hateful incidents." She also disclosed that the Center surveillance camera "did capture an image of the perpertrator."