In a stand of solidarity in front of the University Christian Church’s rainbow-painted doors, Mayor Todd Gloria, community leaders, Police Chief David Nisleit, and City officials called on San Diegans on Feb. 3 to help identify a suspect in the vandalism that damaged two “Black Lives Matter” signs in Hillcrest.
“This was more than vandalism. This was an attack on our community,” Gloria said. “We will not shrug off hate against any San Diegan. Racism and bigotry in any form will not be tolerated in our city. We will identify the individual responsible for these hateful acts and hold them accountable.”
Last week, signs supporting the movement to end systemic racism against Black communities were damaged with pink paint at the University Christian Church and Rich's nightclub. Police released a still of the suspect they obtained from security footage.
“Hateful acts of any kind will not be tolerated in our communities,” said Nisleit. “I encourage any community member to contact the police department if they believe they have been a victim of hate so that all allegations can be thoroughly investigated and victims can seek justice.”
Along with Nisleit, Gloria was joined by San Diego City Council President Jennifer Campbell, Council President Pro-Tem Stephen Whitburn, City Attorney Mara Elliot, University Christian Church’s senior pastor Rev. Caleb Lines, Rich’s nightclub owner Ryan Bedrosian, San Diego Pride Chair and Director of Diversity and Community Life at The Bishop’s School David Thompson, Jr., and San Diego Pride Executive Director Fernando Zweifach López.
The recent acts of vandalism are the latest in a growing list of threats and criminal acts against members of the Black and LGBT communities in the Hillcrest neighborhood. People who have witnessed these types of crimes should contact the San Diego Police Department at 619-531-2000.
Whitburn said: “We must make clear that hate has no place in our community. As the councilmember representing District 3, I stand united with Mayor Gloria and our community leaders in affirming that Black lives matter and acknowledging the intersectionality between our Black and LGBTQ+ communities. Together, we must ensure our neighborhoods are safe and welcoming for all.”
Elliott said: “This act of hate doesn't reflect the generous spirit of the people who live in our beautiful and welcoming city. We must work together to send a strong message that hate crimes will not be tolerated and perpetrators will be held accountable."
Lines said: "University Christian Church always stands on the side of love. We stand on the side of love regardless of race or ethnicity, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, regardless of immigration status, regardless of physical or mental ability, regardless of culture or creed; we love and forgive even people who vandalize churches and businesses. We are also seeking to create something beautiful out of this hateful act, so in response, we are elevating the work of artists of color and LGBTQ+ identifying artists through a special community project during the month of February."
Thompson said: “I was disappointed, but not shocked, to learn of the vandalism at the University Christian Church and Rich’s nightclub. It’s clear that despite momentary milestones in our history, anti-Black racism and insidious white supremacist beliefs exist in the fabric of our nation’s communities. However, I am relieved to see swift and thoughtful responses from leaders in San Diego to stand up and denounce these acts; I believe this is one moment of many to stand up and say, ‘No more.’”
López said: "These hate-filled attacks are not aberrations, but reminders that it is incumbent upon us all to continue addressing racism, transphobia, and homophobia together. The people and systems that uphold those values are not separate or distinct, and that reality must compel us to fight them together if our pursuit is unity and justice for all."