New Tulsa Equality Center Mural Vandalized
TULSA, Oklahoma - News On 6 obtained surveillance video of a man who vandalized Tulsa's Equality Center late Monday night, writing the word "abomination" over a freshly painted mural of a gay playwright.
The Equality Center said Tulsa, for the most part, is extremely supportive of the LGBTQ community, but displays like this one show the city still has a long way to go.
In the video, you can see the man approach, spray paint the word "abomination" on the mural - and also spray paint the face of the man in the mural: gay playwright and Oklahoma native, Lynn Riggs.
"You can clearly see they tried to silence him on a mural display," Deputy Director Jose Vega said. "They will not silence him now, and they will not silence our mission."
Vega said the mural was just finished last month.
For it to be crossed out, written "abomination" on it is painful, and it hurts the community," he said.
Vega said the Equality Center is no stranger to acts of hatred. In 2017, someone drove by and fired more than a dozen shots into the front of the building.
Vega said the community feels unprotected, since Oklahoma laws don't qualify situations like this as a "hate crime."
"We know we're always going to be vandalized, always going to be hurt," he said. "And to know that this is not considered a hate crime in the state of Oklahoma, it gives more of an opportunity for people to say, 'Oh, I know I'm not going to be prosecuted.'"
Vega said no matter what, the doors of the Equality Center are open to everyone, including the man who vandalized it.
"Please, doors are open," he said. "No need to vandalize and hurt a community. Why don't we talk? The center is also yours."
The artist who created this mural is out of town, but Vega said as soon as he's back, he'll come repaint the mural so this symbol of equality can continue to shine in Tulsa.
Deputy Director Jose Vega says it happened just after 11 Monday night.
Vega says it's disheartening to see something like this happen in a city that is otherwise so accepting of the LGBTQ community.
"There is still hate toward the LGBTQ community here in the state of Oklahoma," said Vega. "There's still lots of work to be done, and this is why the center is here in the state of Oklahoma, in Tulsa, to continue helping the LGBTQ community,"