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Anti-LGBTQ+ Vandals Wage War on Washington's Safe Spaces

Anti-LGBTQ+ Vandals Wage War on Washington's Safe Spaces

Washington Wishing Tree Books Welcome LGBTQ Street Art Replace Fear Love
Images: facebook @WishingTreeBooks; Twitter/X @ZackZappone

A local youth support group, an independent bookstore, and a candidate for political office have been targeted.

Homophobic vandals have attacked multiple LGBTQ+ targets in eastern Washington this month, painting over a rainbow crosswalk, defacing an LGBTQ+ youth resource center with antigay slurs, destroying Halloween decorations, and ripping down a flag at the home of a local politician.

The Odyssey Youth Movement in the South Perry neighborhood of Spokane suffered three consecutive nights of vandalism this month, according to local NBC affiliate KHQ. The sign and rainbow crosswalk outside its facility were defaced with paint on October 5. The following evening the property was again defaced with hateful slurs painted on the doors, windows, and sign. And on October 7, witnesses reported a truck “burning out” and leaving rubber marks on the rainbow crosswalk. Last month, a mural outside the center was also vandalized.

“These actions are designed to make LGBTQ+ youth and young adults feel unwelcome and othered in their own community,” Ian Sullivan, executive director at OYM, told the station last week.

LGBTQ+ city councilperson Zack Zappone stood strong against the attacks in a post to X, formerly known as Twitter.

“We can't let fear keep us down,” Zappone wrote. “In Spokane, we all belong.”

In response to the repeated attacks, OYM hosted a pop-up Pride event on Thursday at the center. That night, vandals struck again. They tore down a Pride flag at the home of Paul Dillon, a candidate for City Council, and another person’s home. They also destroyed holiday decorations and threw eggs at the LGBTQ-affirming Wishing Tree Books, which is a neighbor of OYM.

“This is our home and we are not backing down,” Zappone posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, shortly after the attack on his home.

“The vandalism and everything that's been going on is horrible, and it is kind of insane,” Janelle Smith, owner of Wishing Tree Books, told local CBS affiliate KREM.

Police in Spokane are investigating the case, but have not yet labeled it a hate crime.

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