The Pride Community Center of North Florida was vandalized over the weekend.
Board members told WCJB that the windows of the center, located in Gainesville, were smashed and a threatening note was left, though they did not share the content of the note because of the ongoing investigation.
Due to the note, police are reportedly investigating the incident as a hate crime.
“It’s heartbreaking to see a building that we pour so much love and energy into being vandalized by people that were obviously targeting us because of the work we do here,” said center Vice President James Brown.
“When I came here and saw everything, it was hard I got very emotional because it was hard to see,” added board member Debbie Lewis.
Brown thinks the perpetrators used rocks to break the windows, but police are still investigating.
“Our Pride Center is a place where our community can come and be safe and feel welcomed,” Brown said in a statement. “Seeing the center vandalized in this way breaks my heart. This incident is exactly the reason why our community needs safe spaces. Your board at this Pride Center will keep working hard and pouring our love into this community and on making this a safe space again.”
Pride Community Center President Tamara Perry-Lunardo also shared a message of resilience.
“We are heartbroken but undeterred. The Pride Community Center of North Central Florida remains committed to being a safe place, and this display of hatred has only strengthened our resolve to continue to show up with love for our beautiful LGBTQ+ community. We’re here, we’re queer—loud and proud.”
Heartbroken to see the Pride Center of North Central Florida vandalized.
Please show your support to our friends in Gainesville as they work to repair the damage ahead of a potential storm. https://t.co/W6e3h15ZvJ
— Equality Florida (@equalityfl) September 25, 2022