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Increase in vandalism against Denver gay businesses

Increase in vandalism against Denver gay businesses

Businesses and organizations that cater to the Denver gay community have been the targets of at least 10 instances of vandalism this year, owners and leaders reported. Vandals have used pellet guns to shoot out the windows of the Rocky Mountain Pink Pages six times, leading to two employees to quit the gay business directory, general manager Ronnie Suba said. One "just packed her stuff, looked at the window, looked at me, and said, 'I can't take this anymore,' " Suba said. The Center, a gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community center in Denver, hired a security guard after vandals broke their windows four times. Property management has since replaced the broken windows with plywood. "Short of stationing somebody in the building across the street, there is really no way to deal with it," said Art Thompson, executive director of the Center. The Colorado Anti-Violence Program has reported an increase in incidents of bias-motivated violence, including vandalism, hate mail, physical assault, and verbal abuse, said Avy Skolnik, the program's direct-services coordinator. There are also a lot more that go unreported, Skolnik said. "We are only seeing a small snapshot of the reality out there," he said. Denver police does not track crimes against gay- and lesbian-owned businesses and could not say whether those crimes are on the rise. Compounding the problem, some businesses do not report vandalism, and "if we don't know about it, we can't do anything about it," Denver police spokeswoman Virginia Lopez said. At least three other businesses that cater to the gay community report being the target of antigay graffiti on windows.

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