Thursday, February 5, 2009

New York human rights commissioner to visit vandalized Long Island LGBT center

As the investigation into who vandalized the Long Island Gay & Lesbian Youth Center in Bay Shore continues, State Division of Human Rights Commissioner Galen D. Kirkland plans to visit LIGALY tomorrow.

Governor David Paterson announced Kirkland's visit less than three days after a vandal (or vandals) caused more than $5,000 in damage to LIGALY's offices and a van parked outside.

"In the diverse world in which we live, where we find ourselves increasingly
dependent on each other to advance the qualities of our own lives, we must learn to celebrate our differences and embrace our common condition," Paterson said. "We must understand that an attack on any of us is an attack on all of us. Hate is unacceptable.”

Openly lesbian New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and arguably most notably Suffolk County executive Steve Levy, who was widely criticized for his initial response to Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero's murder in Patchogue last November, have also spoken out against the vandalism.

"This type of attack against the gay community will not be tolerated in Suffolk County," Levy 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, told me earlier this week his offices will continue to investigate the vandalism as a hate crime until proven otherwise. The bigger question remains, however, as to whether hate and bias-related crimes of all kinds remains a serious problem on Long Island. This incident, Lucero's murder and others in recent years appear to affirm this unfortunate reality.

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