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Dallas LGBT Center Damaged in Arson Attack

Arsonist torches South Dallas LGBT Center
Abounding Prosperity client Marcus Simpson said whoever committed the arson is a monster.

Investigators trying to determine if the arson against the black LGBT center was hate-motivated.

Abounding Prosperity, a Dallas LGBT center that primarily serves black gay and bi men and transgender women, was damaged Friday morning in a fire that investigators say was the work of an arsonist.

A back office at Abounding Prosperity's building was gutted, and there was heavy smoke damage to rest of the structure, Dallas TV station WFAA reports.

Dallas-Fire Rescue officials said the fire appears to have been intentionally set. The arsonist apparently broke through the center's back gates and used an accelerant to start the fire. Witnesses said they saw a man driving erratically away from the site about 6 a.m. Friday. Police and fire authorities are still searching for suspects.

The center, which operates out of a renovated home, provides counseling, medical, and STD prevention services to an estimated 2,000 people each year and seeks to address health, social, and economic disparities affecting queer black men. Its services are on hold while the staff deals with the fire damage

One of its clients, Marcus Simpson, has been relying on Abounding Prosperity since he was a teenager. Whoever committed the arson is "a monster," he told WFAA. "I mean, to see them do something like this in a small community that's trying to help build the community, it's sad."

Although authorities are unsure of the arsonist's motives, Abounding Prosperity CEO Kirk Myers told the station he believes the perpetrator wanted to intimidate the people the center serves. "You know where my mind immediately goes is that the political climate in the world we're living in today is creating an atmosphere where this sort of activity could be acceptable in someone's mind," Myers said. Before the incident, the center had not received any specific threats, he said.

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