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Long Beach rallies against hate crimes

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- About 200 members of the gay community and their allies attended a rally Thursday night in Bixby Park to protest three unrelated attacks on gay men, including one that police are calling a hate crime, since July 24.

"Long Beach is one of the most diverse cities in the United States," said Ron Sylvester, chairman of the Gay and Lesbian Center of Greater Long Beach.

"We are comprised of many strong, vibrant and resilient communities. Hate crimes are intended to strike fear into and divide our communities and separate us from one another.

"As one community made up of many, we are stronger than the few cowardly individuals working against us."

Sylvester was joined by Mayor Bob Foster, members of the City Council, the city's Human Dignity Commission, recently elected Congresswoman Janice Hahn and other civic leaders who spoke about the need for accepting and respecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

"Diversity is our strength," Foster said. "Hate crimes will not be tolerated in this city."

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