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Attacks at Gay Center Probed as Hate Crimes

September 15, 2004|Andrew Blankstein | Times Staff Writer

Attacks by vandals on two successive nights at the UCLA Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Campus Resource Center are under investigation as hate crimes, a university police spokeswoman said Tuesday.

"These incidents are reprehensible," UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale said in a statement.

He said the university has zero tolerance for such acts, which are "an assault on our entire campus community."

A large chunk of concrete was hurled through a library window at the center Sunday night, said Nancy Greenstein, a spokeswoman for the UCLA Police Department.

The next night, vandals broke windows in several rooms of the center and stole two rainbow flags -- symbols of the gay community -- that had decorated windows. The group occupies several rooms in the student activities center.

"We are classifying it as a hate crime," Greenstein said. "And anything that's classified as a hate crime is a priority."

Classes are not scheduled to start at the 35,000-student campus for two weeks.

It was not immediately clear who may have been responsible for the crime, Greenstein said.

Blood found at the scene suggests that a vandal was cut by glass, police said.

A year ago, the center moved from Haines Hall to the student activities center, which is among the most heavily trafficked campus areas.

Center director Ronni L. Sanlo said the attack was the first in the center's 10-year history.

"It's really a shame," Sanlo said. "I have so much compassion for people with internalized homophobia but not for people who are destructive."

According to police statistics, there were 10 bias-motivated incidents at UCLA in 2003, including four cases relating to the victims' sexual orientation. Greenstein said those cases involved slurs or derogatory e-mails rather than physical attacks.

As the academic year gets underway, Carnesale said, UCLA will work to make the campus safe and a place in which "hate-motivated behavior is not tolerated."

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