'I'm just speechless': Oakland LGBTQ Community Center vandalized during Pride weekend

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- A disturbing incident to report on Pride weekend, which should be a happy time. Oakland's LGBTQ Community Center was vandalized Saturday morning, leaving staff and volunteers stunned.

"I'm just speechless," said the center's Co-founder Joe Hawkins.

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It's not what Hawkins was expecting on Pride weekend. Most of the windows at Oakland's LGBTQ Community Center were smashed late Saturday morning.

On its Facebook page, the center wrote, "Dear community, it is with much sadness that we report that our Center was vandalized this morning." It went on to say in part, "We will get through this."

The post said the windows were smashed, but was able to get a suspect description from witnesses.

"When we're supposed to be celebrating our empowerment as Queer people, people are bashing our building because of their own hate," Hawkins said.

Cosmos Ozansi was setting up his Jewlery stand when he says he saw a young man breaking the windows with a golf club, he looked angry.

Cosmos started yelling, "'Stop, stop!' as loud as I could, then he saw me."

He says the man took off on a bike.

Joe Hawkins, was the first to carry the Pink torch for this year's Pride Weekend relay culminating in San Francisco, escorted by Mayor Libby Schaaf, who said she's outraged about the vandalism.

"I am furious that anyone would commit this kind of act at this sanctuary of love, pride and family," said Mayor Schaaf.

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SF Pride celebrations have gone virtual due to COVID-19, and many say the Castro District has lost its party spirit this year.

But many bars and restaurants say they don't want big crowds coming here.

"If people aren't social distancing, we'll close it down, we want people to be safe," said Steve Porter, Harvey's restaurant general manager.

Back in Oakland, Joe Hawkins says shattered windows won't break his pride.

"We'll get through this, happy Pride everyone," Hawkins added.

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Oakland Police say they are actively investigating the incident.
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