LGBT community rallies for Jehovah’s WitnessesAround the City Thursday, January 5th, 2012
Serial arson fires called ‘hate crime’
An anti-hate-crime fund originally endowed by and for the LGBT community is likely to contribute an additional $5,000 to augment a reward being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator(s) of an arson hate crime against a San Diego Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall – a church noted for its opposition to marriage equality for same-sex couples.
The idea of contributing additional reward money is being promulgated by LGBT activists and community leaders, such as Nicole Murray Ramirez (who is also a columnist for San Diego LGBT Weekly), San Diego Human Relations Commission (SDHRC) chair, Bruce Abrams, and San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria – among others.
“When I saw this had happened, I thought, ‘Hey, we should help them with a contribution to the reward fund – maybe with $5,000 or so,’” Ramirez said. “That should help find the people who committed this despicable act.”
According to Councilman Gloria’s office, deliberately set fires occurred at the Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall Dec. 20 and Dec. 30, 2011, while another arson attempt was made at 12:30 a.m., Jan. 3.
Nicole Murray Ramirez, who is considered by many to be a local and national civil rights legend and a loud voice for the cause of LGBT rights and equality, told San Diego LGBT Weekly he has no qualms about helping a congregation that has long opposed the very concepts for which he has spent a lifetime fighting.
“A hate crime is a hate crime is a hate crime,” Ramirez said. “We’re talking about a church; a place where people go for spirituality. I may not agree with their positions against equal rights for all Americans, but I’m sure not going to shrink from my responsibility to stand up in support of anyone who’s been victimized by the kind of violence that kept our community in the shadows for so long.”
San Diego human relations executive director, Danell Scarborough, who worked with Ramirez during his multi-term stint as an SDHRC commissioner, isn’t surprised by Ramirez’ and other LGBT leaders’ desires to help the local Jehovah’s Witness congregation during its hour of need.
“I think the LGBT leaders I’ve come into contact with see the need to protect all people and stand up for their freedoms and rights, regardless of who they are or what they believe in,” Scarborough said. “Nicole has always said we’ve got to carry water for each other; that’s how we create a diverse and respectful community.”
Councilman Todd Gloria, who is gay and whose district is home to the church on Adams Avenue, is also sounding a call for support for the local Kingdom Hall congregation and for information about the crime.
“San Diegans must stand together against these senseless acts,” said Gloria. “I encourage anyone with information about the crimes to tell the authorities. Crime doesn’t pay, but helping catch the responsible criminals may yield a reward.”
Metro Arson Strike Team is currently investigating the crime. Anyone with information related to the arson is asked to call arson investigators at 619-236-6815, or to remain anonymous, calls can be made to San Diego County Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477 or send an anonymous text or Web tip at sdcrimestoppers.com.
Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=19425