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San Diego Pride Monument Vandalized in What Locals Call a 'Hate Crime'


A plaque showing a Pride flag and LGBTQ activists was badly scratched.

A Pride monument in San Diego has been vandalized.

A plaque beneath a rainbow flag was badly scratched in Hillcrest, the LGBTQ neighborhood in the southern California city.

The vandal or vandals targeted specific images on the plaque for defacement: a rainbow flag -- a symbol of the LGBTQ community -- as well as the heads of the activists raising it.

Benjamin Nicholls, executive director of the Hillcrest Business Association, told KNSD, a local NBC affiliate, that he discovered the vandalization last week. He referred to the destruction as a "hate crime."

"It looks like someone has taken a screwdriver," said Nicholls. "Because of where the damage is, on the flag itself and activists' faces, it does seem like a hate crime to me."

Police are not investigating the incident at this time.

Repairs to the plaque are estimated at $10,000. Local businesses, like the Crest Cafe, have started raising funds to cover the cost. The restaurant is offering discounts to those who donate. The restored monument will also add an encasement and a security camera for protection, according to a spokesperson from San Diego Pride.

Attacks on members of the LGBTQ community are on the rise. Hate crimes in the United States rose 17 percent in 2017, the third consecutive year that such crimes increased, the FBI reported in November 2018. Crimes based on sexual orientation accounted for 15.9 percent of the total, and crimes based on gender identity for 1.7 percent.

LGBTQ community centers have also seen a spike in attacks, ranging from a shattered glass door at Garden State Equality in New Jersey to an armed person shooting 13 pellets at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center in Tulsa, Okla.

"We're getting reports like this from all over the country," said Toby Jenkins, the executive director of the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center. "Gay community centers being vandalized; welcoming churches being vandalized; gay businesses being vandalized. Now it's happened in Tulsa."

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