Volunteers from the Pensacola, Fla., area will unite Feb. 16 to help repair a teenager’s home vandalized in an anti-gay attack.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and other civil rights groups are joining with Christian organizations such as the Pensacola World Changers in the effort.
On Feb. 3, the Pensacola area home of 18-year-old Jesse Jeffers was vandalized. The vandal or vandals spray-painted "KKK" on the front door and also spray-painted anti-gay slurs, swastikas and the message "God don't (heart) you." The home also was vandalized inside, with spray-paint, including a red swastika on the ceiling.
"There are few things that could make you feel more violated than what Jesse suffered: having your home invaded and vandalized, especially when the motivation is hatred toward your very identity," said Sara Latshaw, a northwest Florida regional organizer for the ACLU of Florida, who helped coordinate the repair effort. "No one in our community should have to go through that. That’s why this diverse group of volunteers is coming together to support him. We want to show that everyone deserves to be free from being abused for who they are, and that this community will not stand for this kind of hatred."
Mark Taylor of Pensacola World Changers said, "No matter whether or not we agree on everything else, we can agree that we must not stand for acts of hate in our community. It’s important that no matter what we believe, we have to prove that hate is not the answer. We should be able to stand together to help clean up for Jesse and make this right."
At least 37 people have volunteered for the repair work.
The Santa Rosa County Sheriff's office is investigating the vandalism as a hate crime.
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