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FBI Asked To Probe Anti-Gay Arson Attacks


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FBI Asked To Probe Anti-Gay Arson Attacks

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: August 3, 2005 8:00 pm ET

(New York City) A New York-based organization that tracks violence against members of the LGBT community has called for a federal investigation into 4 arson attacks in the South.

In a letter to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs says the bureau should investigate all of the arsons collectively.

In the course of a month fires were set at a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-friendly church in Middlebrook, Virginia, gay bars in Fayetteville, Arkansas and Brownsville, Texas, and the torching of the home of two gay men outside Orlando, Florida.

Luckily there were no injuries in any of the attacks.

In its letter to Mueller the NCAVP said that the agency needs to investigate if there are any connections between the arsons and a possible heightened and/or coordinated activity by hate groups.

"We know that the FBI is looking into any connections between organized hate groups and the recent church burning in Virginia,” said Clarence Patton, who heads NCAVP and is the Acting Executive Director of the New York City Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project.

“And while there is no evidence that we're aware of at this time indicating that all the cases of arson in the Southeast and Texas are connected, or that the same individual or group is responsible for them, it is increasingly clear that there is a problem that warrants some coordinated response," Patton said.

"At the very least, there are a number of questions that we in the nation's LGBT community have including 'are the local law enforcement agencies working on these cases in communication with each other; have there been other instances of arson targeting gay, gay-friendly and gay-associated sites that haven't yet been identified as such; and finally, what should the role of the nation's premiere law enforcement agency be in addressing what is so obviously a crisis for a community already under cultural, political and physical siege?'"

Patton said that LGBT hate incidents, reported to NCAVP member groups across the country, have risen dramatically in the last two years - 8% in 2003 and another 4% in 2004, and show no signs of decreasing.

"This has been an absolutely terrifying summer for LGBT people," Patton continued. "Those that hate LGBT people feel increasingly emboldened to act violently and destructively on that hatred from New York to Arkansas, from Texas to Florida and in just about every corner of the country; it is past time for those charged with protecting all Americans to pay attention to these horrors," said Patton.

In Florida, police are continuing to search for the person who torched the home of a gay couple after spray painting "Die Fag" on the front steps. (story) Days earlier a gay club in Brownsville, Texas was been gutted by fire. (story) The week before, arson destroyed the only gay club in Fayetteville, Arkansas. (story) On July 9, fire damaged a gay-positive church in Middlebrook, Virginia. Police said the arsonist had scrawled a message on the exterior of St. John's Reformed United Church of Christ saying that UCC members were sinners.

©365Gay.com 2005


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