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Community leaders raising money for armed security at The San Diego LGBT Community Center

Community leaders raising money for armed security at The San Diego LGBT Community Center.
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San Diego LGBT activists are calling for increased armed security in and around the San Diego LGBT Center following recent hate-based crimes in Hillcrest and San Diego. 

Over the weekend 19-year-old John Earnest was taken into custody on suspicion of killing one woman and injuring three others after he opened fire at a San Diego County synagogue.

On February 12 of this year, Stefano Markell Parker, 29, took a loaded automatic rifle and fired into the busy Asian Bistro on University Avenue. 

Some in the community are taking these incidents as a warning of what could happen if The Center is left exposed without adequate defenses. 

City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez is especially concerned, enough so he has committed to starting a fund to help The Center. 

"It's long overdue that our LGBT Community Center hire professional security guards," stated Ramirez. ''The Imperial Court de San Diego and the GLBT Vote 2020 commit $1,000 apiece and Eddie Reynoso and the San Diego Equality Business Alliance commit $1,000 apiece towards this effort."

Murray-Ramirez, who chairs the San Diego County Sheriff's LGBT advisory board, says he has always been concerned about the safety of staff and clients of The Center. He refers to an incident that happened four years ago when an alleged transient entered the building and injured activist Connor Maddocks by punching him in the face. 

Community members, Murray-Ramirez adds, are growing more and more concerned with the "growing encampment" of non-LGBT transients who are taking up space near The Center. 

"But the Center has refused to hire armed security guards," he said. "It is time that our LGBT Center, the Metropolitan Community Center, and San Diego Pride reaccess their security situation as many of our LGBT bars have in view of recent growing anti-gay incidents in Hillcrest."

Two days after the shooter opened fire into the Asian Bistro,  Murray-Ramirez, who is also Chair of Mayor Kevin Faulconer's LGBT Advisory Council, brought together SDPD with the Police Chief and the FBI and Hillcrest bars and businesses to discuss the growing anti-gay incidents in the neighborhood. 

When asked about security at that meeting, Murray-Ramirez says representatives from The Center stated their concern about "uniformed" security. The organization has a history of not wanting police officers in uniform inside the building as it may trigger some clients and visitors. 

Nicole Murray-Ramirez has also called upon the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to reestablish the San Diego County Human Relations Commission that was dissolved in the 1980s when then-supervisor Leon Williams, the only person of color, ever elected left the board.

San Diego Gay and Lesbian News reached out to The Center for comment, but they were unable to make a statement at this time.