The civil rights of a Louisiana same-sex couple were trampled upon in the early morning hours by a brazen vandal who methodically ripped a symbol of equal rights from the couple’s historic New Orleans home and spray-painted an anti-gay slur on their property.
Forum for Equality – the statewide organization fighting for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Louisianans – commends the thorough work of law enforcement as it quickly sought the criminal caught on surveillance video perpetrating the crime at 1:08 am August 3 – a crime that serves as a grim example of the challenges LGBT citizens face daily.
“I was stunned,” victim John Hill told The Advocate newspaper. Hill, who is the former chairman of Forum for Equality, added “It was like getting kicked in the stomach. It just shows you that in 2013, in New Orleans, we are still faced with this sort of prejudice.”
The couple said it appears the attack was not random and that they were specifically targeted over their display of a rainbow pride flag.
Hill’s fiance, John Weimer, Jr., in describing the surveillance video to WDSU-TV, said “We saw the van pull up. He pulled out a ladder, and then climbs up, rips the flag down, puts the ladder back in his van, throws the flag in there, opens up the side door, grabs a can of paint and then sprays the door and then leaves.”
Because of the camera’s position, the vandal’s face was not seen. New Orleans Police Department spokesman Garry Flot told the Times-Picayune that the department is investigating the incident with the FBI as a possible hate crime. It is asking the public’s assistance in identifying the man seen in the video, which can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/14Valfg
“The lack of basic equal rights in Louisiana – a state which has a long way to go to treat its LGBT citizens fairly – enables this culture of prejudice and bias,” said Forum for Equality Executive Director SarahJane Brady. “Forum for Equality’s board, its members and all of the LGBT advocates across this state embody the bravery and steadfast dedication to equality. Change will happen, but how fast will depend on how our citizens reject hatred and stand on the right side of history.”
Hill’s successor as Forum for Equality Chair, Mary Griggs, added, “No one in Louisiana should fear prejudice at their door. Hate crimes like this only make our community and our allies stronger in our determination to fight for justice and equality.”
Hill and Weimer said they will not be deterred by the actions of the criminal. In fact, “I went out and bought three more flags. We had one, now we have three,” Weimer told WDSU.
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