When employees at the Los Angeles LGBT Center arrived at work on Friday, they were shocked to find "F**k Trannies" spray-painted in large letters across the outer walls of one of the center's buildings. The phrase was repeated twice, along with graffiti reading "F**k All Y'all" scrawled next to it.
Los Angeles was not the only city to have its LGBT Center targeted late this week. On Thursday, workers found the storefront of Milwaukee's Diverse & Resilient center vandalized with the slur "F*g" in spray paint. Gerald Coon, president of Diverse & Resilient, told NBC News that it's the third time in two months the center has been hit with graffiti.
"This is unfortunately the third time in two months that our building has been vandalized," said Coon. "We can't be certain of the motives behind the vandalism or if the incidents are related, but we are aware that such attacks have increased across the country since the election. We remain undeterred and will continue our work."
The Los Angeles LGBT Center operates a total of six different facilities in the city, including a youth center, the Mi Centro Latino community center, and others. The graffiti occurred at one of the most prominent facilities, the Village at Ed Gould Plaza at 1125 N. McCadden Place, where arts and culture programming takes place in a compound of theaters, art galleries, and other venues. Workers at the village building had painted over the slurs by 11:30 a.m. local time.
Jim Key, the center's chief marketing officer, told NBC News on Saturday that police are investigating the graffiti as a "hate incident."
"It happened sometime between 9 and 10 p.m. last night," said Jackie DeFede, director of facilities at the center, in a statement sent to NBC News. "We had a security officer on duty, but he was patrolling other areas of the building. Fortunately, we have cameras that should have recorded the perpetrators."
DeFede said she plans to file a police report that includes the surveillance video. According to the center's blog, The Vanguard, the center has been the target if hate speech vandalism before — but never this badly.
Shelby Chestnut, director of community organizing and public advocacy at the New York City Anti-Violence Project (also a member of the national coalition), told NBC News that the graffiti this week was "deeply troubling." Chestnut said that LGBT community centers are frequent targets of both vandalism and hate mail.
"These spaces are bastions of safety and empowerment for LGBTQ people and are needed now more than ever in our new political climate," Chestnut said on Saturday morning. "This type of violence must not tolerated or normalized in any way, and it's on all of us to address it and stop it from happening."