Police probe hate crime against LGBTQ center

Posted at 6:56 PM, May 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-25 22:00:27-04

Police are looking for whoever threw a rock into the front window of the North County LGBTQ Resource Center in Oceanside, and the incident is being investigated as a hate crime.

According to Oceanside police, the incident at the building on North Coast Highway happened either late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.

"Between the rainbow flag and the signs, people know exactly what we do here," center executive director Max Disposti.

Disposti discovered the shattered window when he arrived at work at on Wednesday 6:30 a.m. He found a rock inside and nothing stolen from the center. Additionally, the fact that the criminal didn't target any other businesses in the complex led Oceanside police to believe this is a hate crime.

"There was an intent to damage the center," said Disposti.

The center has been at its North Coast Highway location for five years. Disposti and his colleagues have never seen anything like this at the center, but they think they know why this happened now.

"It's sad. It's disappointing," said center staff member Linda Johnson. "It's in the window where we had a poster about transgender family. Lately, there's been a lot in the news about inclusive bathrooms."

"It kind of goes along with what's going on nationwide and the conversation that's very polarizing and very hateful," added Disposti.

It's disappointing to friends of the center who know the people who work there and the hard work they do. Last year, the center helped 9,500 people with everything from health, addiction and family counseling.

"Every type of person, not just one small group, so it's been a support for many people in this community," said Pam Gremmels, owner of neighboring business Kindred Journeys.

"We live in a multicultural embracing community where all people are welcome. As long as you are peaceful and obey the law, there should be no complaints about anyone," said Rena Wallenius, who lives in Oceanside and serves as a counsel for the center.

"It's just sad that people just don't get what this place is doing. It's really helping a lot of people," said Jody Paul, who helps keep the center clean.

Paul has the center to thank for keeping him from going homeless.

This hate crime won't slow them down.

"This will not stop us. We're going to be moving to an even bigger center that'll be even more visible," said Disposti.

The new resource will open in early July, and Disposti said he hopes this hate crime encourages people in the community to be more vocal in their support for center.