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Florida Police Call LGBTQ+ Pride Center Vandalism a Hate Crime

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www.advocate.com

Police are investigating an incident of vandalism at the Pride Community Center of North Central Florida (PCCNCF) in Gainesville as a hate crime after windows were smashed and a note left behind this weekend.On Saturday morning, PCCNCF director Debbie Lewis got a call from a friend across from the center, who told her that the building had been vandalized.Lewis tells The Advocate she made her way to the scene after calling the group's vice president "because he's younger and more able than I am, so and I wanted to let him know the first thing."She says that seeing the damage was difficult."[I]t was pretty shocking to see," Lewis says. "Just all the broken glass, and we could see that rocks had been thrown, and there was a note just inside, which probably also was thrown."Center staff isn't sharing the content of the note because of the ongoing investigation, but a spokesperson for the Gainesville Police Department tells The Advocate in an email that the note referenced an upcoming advertised event. "So it was clear that it wasn't just people who like to break glass," says Lewis. "It was people who wanted to send a message to us."The spokesperson with the Gainesville Police Department wrote, "We urge the community to report any suspicious activity.

Neighbors in the area are asked to check video surveillance or report if they witnessed the incident that possibly occurred between [4 p.m.] on [September 23] and [9 a.m.] on [September 24]."They added, "We have asked our officers to increase their patrols in the area."Lewis, who has been with the center for three years, says there's been a sharp uptick in negative sentiment and incidents surrounding the center in the last year.She says that before Gov.

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