Hate crime aimed at LGBT Resource Center

Hate crime aimed at LGBT Resource Center
A boarded up window is the only sign the North County LGBTQ Center was the target of a hate crime on Wednesday. Programs continued as usual. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — It wasn’t unusual for Max Disposti, executive director of the North County Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Resource Center, to arrive at the center at 6:30 a.m. What he saw when he got there Wednesday was. The large front window of the resource center had been shattered.

Staff at the adjacent coffee shop, which opens at 5:30 a.m., had already called police. Disposti put in a second call, and officers responded at 7:40 a.m.

Upon investigation it was found nothing inside the center had been disturbed.

Police deemed the incident a hate crime, filed a report, and gathered evidence.

“The intent was to damage property,” Disposti said. “Fortunately no one was there.”

The unsettling incident did not dampen the spirit of resource center staff.

After officers left, staff pitched in to sweep up the glass, and line up the rainbow colored patio chairs outside before morning programs began.

Except for a boarded up window and caution tape, things were back to business as usual the rest of the day.

Disposti said during the day center participants speculated on what may have led to the hate crime, and some felt a bit cautious and vulnerable.

There were also demonstrations of community love and support for the center throughout the day.

City Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery stopped in and donated $250 to help the center replace its front window.

“I was sad to see this hate crime here in my hometown, one block from the Civic Center,” Lowery said.

“I wanted to help.”

Lowery said another resident donated $20 while he was at the center.

“I’m humbled by the generosity of our community, and the work the LGBT Center does to help save the lives of our young people and others,” Lowery said.

The resource center opened its brick and mortar location on Coast Highway 101 five years ago. Disposti said there has never been prior vandalism to the center.

“I haven’t witnessed anything like that,” Disposti said.  “Oceanside has been an amazing ally of ours.”

Disposti said the incident shows the need for more community education about the LGBT community.

“It is not an opportunity to tone it down,” Disposti said. “We’re going to be as visible as ever. We don’t want to go back to a place where people have to fear for their safety.”

There are plans for the North County LGBT Resource Center to move to a larger building on Mission Avenue when its present lease ends June 30.

“We have more education to do,” Disposti said. “We’re going to move into a bigger center, with bigger windows and have a bigger flag to fly.”

Renovations are being completed at the new center site, which will open July 5.

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