Washington LGBTQ+ centre vandalised three times in one week

Odyssey Youth Movement Centre, Spokane, Washington

An LGBTQ+ youth centre in Spokane, Washington has been vandalised for the third time in one week – and for the fourth time in less than a month.

The Odyssey Youth Movement (OYM) Centre on South Perry Street, which offers a safe space and a number of outreach services for LGBTQ+ youth in the area, has been subject to a wave of hate-fuelled vandalism attacks in the space of just a few days.

The hate-fuelled vandalism attacks started in late September when the rainbow-coloured footpath in front of the OYM Centre was spray-painted with graffiti.

Vandals amped up their attacks last week when hitting the OYM Centre and the surrounding area three nights in a row.

On Thursday, 5 October, the rainbow crosswalk was once again covered up in paint, as well as an OYM sign outside of the centre.

The following night, vandals wrote hate speech and homophobic slurs on the doors and windows in gold spray paint.

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“They spray-painted hateful words. Words meant to divide, to make people feel unwelcome, and to make people feel afraid,” OYM Executive Director Ian Sullivan told local media outlet KHQ.

Not only that but a Pride flag that had been hanging up at a neighbouring building was torn down and left on the ground in front of the centre. 

Finally, on Saturday, 7 October, rubber tire tracks covered up the rainbow crosswalk one more time – though vandalism efforts were stopped short when a local resident interrupted.

Commenting on the string of hateful attacks, Michelle Weaver, president of the South Perry Neighborhood and Business Association: “We’re all saddened to hear that someone continues to vandalize the new rainbow crosswalk and Odyssey Youth facility. Hate runs counter to our values here in the Perry District. 

“Our diversity is one of the things that makes the Perry District such a great place to be… Unfortunately, people fear that which is different from themselves and it leads to hate. 

“I’m hoping whoever did this can be open to the fact that we all work hard, contribute to our communities, pay taxes, raise families, and have dreams and aspirations just like they do, no matter who we love and how we identify.”

The youth centre has filed reports for this wave of hate crimes to the Spokane Police Department, who are now actively investigating the vandalism.

“Right now, we’re investigating, all the circumstances surrounding that vandalism… that property damage,” said Spokane PD spokesperson Nick Briggs.

Residents of the City of Spokane are asked to report to police if they have any information on any of these incidents and to report hate crimes in general to help bring vandals to justice.