- Matthew Roy ©️ Seven Days
- The Pride Center door
Someone shattered the front door of the Pride Center of Vermont with a rock overnight, the latest act of anti-LGBTQ violence.
Other tenants in the Burlington office building that houses the Pride Center noticed the vandalism early Tuesday morning and alerted center staff and police, executive director Mike Bensel said.
Building surveillance video shared with Bensel captured a person who walked up to the South Champlain Street office just after midnight, threw two objects at the door and strode off.
A Burlington Police Department officer on scene said the department would issue a press release about the incident later Tuesday.
The vandalism comes two weeks after Fern Feather, a trans woman, was stabbed to death. Seth Brunell, who has been charged with second-degree murder of Feather, claimed to police that she'd made an unwanted sexual advance. Feather was well known throughout the state, and her death prompted an outpouring of grief.
The vandalism occurred as LGBTQ education and activism in Vermont and Burlington, in particular, draws national scrutiny. Earlier this month, a news segment by Fox News host Laura Ingraham broadcasted video clips from a Burlington School District gender identity workshop, which inspired dozens of right-wing culture warriors to send vitriolic messages to district personnel.
Ingraham had accused the district of "grooming" children, employing a term implying that gender and sex education manipulates students similar to the way pedophiles lay groundwork for sexual assault.
"It's a really tough time for LGBTQ folks, especially trans folks, in Vermont," Bensel said. "It impacts folks' sense of safety and their ability to be their authentic selves anywhere in the state, knowing that they're being targeted based on their identity."
Williston Police logged a report of a rock thrown through glass at a Planned Parenthood center in that town on April 16, though there's no indication the incidents may be related.
- Derek Brouwer ©️ Seven Days
- Mike Bensel, right, and a maintenance worker covering up the broken door on Tuesday morning
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"Our City is using its full resources to investigate who committed this crime and why," he said, adding that ensuring that Burlington is welcoming for LGBTQ people is "more important than ever."
On Tuesday morning, Bensel and a maintenance worker taped a pride flag across the open door frame.
"We're a resilient community," Bensel said. "Whenever this happens, it just shows us that there's a huge need for our organization to exist. We're not going anywhere and our work is not done."