LGBTQ+ centers in Orlando bounce back quick after overnight vandalism

The Center Orlando, Zebra Youth vandalized

ORLANDO, Fla. – Murals at two LGBTQ+ centers in Orlando were vandalized with hateful messages, according to officials at one business.

Photos of The Center Orlando and Zebra Youth, across the street from each other on Mills Avenue, show hateful messages spray painted on top of murals at both locations.

The Center’s social media post read in part, “It’s not the first time it has happened and even though is frustrating, we are not going to stop being a beacon of light for our community.”

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Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan was on hand at The Center on Saturday with mural artist Kim Murphy and others, covering up the graffiti.

Murphy said she painted one mural for the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting.

“It’s a gut punch, but I want everybody in the community to know we are going to fix it,” Murphy said.

George Wallace, the executive director at The Center, told News 6 that his staff called him shortly before 9 a.m. to report what had happened.

“We’re not going to let hate win, that seems to be a mantra here in Orlando,” Wallace said. “We’ll just keep fighting and educating people. Education is key.”

News 6 has reached out to Orlando police to see if they are investigating this incident as a hate crime. At this time we have not heard back.

“This is garbage. Graffiti people are like ‘Oh it’s expression!’ It is not expression. This kind of graffiti is meant to intimidate and harm others,” Sheehan said.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer released a statement condemning the vandalism.

“Hate like this has no place in our city. Zebra Youth and The Center are important parts of our community, providing critical services and support to LGBTQ+ residents. Here in Orlando we will continue to embrace one another and work to create an inclusive, welcoming city for all.”

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer

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About the Authors:

Brian Didlake joined the News 6 team as a reporter in March 2021.

Jacob joined in 2022. He spent 19 years at the Orlando Sentinel, mostly as a photojournalist and video journalist, before joining Spectrum News 13 as a web editor and digital journalist in 2021.