‘We will rebuild brighter and gayer than before’: Investigation after LGBT+ lifeguard tower burned to ground

Gino SpocchiaFri, 26 March 2021, 11:54 pm

<p>A picture of the LGBT+ lifeguard tower shared by Long Beach mayor Robert Garcia</p> (Robert Garcia/Twitter)
A picture of the LGBT+ lifeguard tower shared by Long Beach mayor Robert Garcia(Robert Garcia/Twitter)

Officials in Long Beach, California, are investigating the destruction of a lifeguard tower that was decorated in support of LGBT+ people.

The city’s openly gay mayor, Robert Garcia, confirmed an investigation into the fire on Wednesday and called out those who performed “an act of hate” against the city’s LGBT+ community.

“Last night, our Pride lifeguard station that was painted by LGBTQ+ lifeguards, burned down,” Mr Garcia wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “The fire is under investigation but I personally have little doubt this was an act of hate.”

Gonzolo Medina, the Long Beach Fire Department marine safety chief, said to NBC News that the lifeguard tower was discovered “fully engulfed” in flames around midnight on Tuesday, and could not be salvaged.

The steel structure was painted in the iconic rainbow colours of the LGBT+ flag for last year’s Pride month by gay members of the fire department’s marine safety division, Mr Medina said.

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“The tower served as a symbol of our strong support for the diversity within our ranks and the LGBTQ+ community who call Long Beach home,” the fire department said in a statement on Wednesday, also confirming an investigation into the incident.

During a rally at the site of the lifeguard tower on Wednesday night, Mr Garcia told crowds waving Pride flags: “To whoever committed this act, just please know that, one, you are not welcome in our community.

“And two, that we will rebuild the lifeguard station, brighter, gayer, and bigger than it was before.”https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-17&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1374411742181163009&lang=en-gb&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fuk.yahoo.com%2Fnews%2Ften-arrested-amid-violence-third-050030304.html&theme=light&widgetsVersion=e1ffbdb%3A1614796141937&width=550px

The Long Beach mayor added that the tower was one of the most popular sights on the beach, and in comments to the Los Angeles Times, there was “little doubt” that the one lifeguard tower in LGBT+ colours was burned because of its significance.

“As a gay man who is also the mayor of a city, I understand that hate incidents still happen,” he told the paper. “They happen to people I know, and they’ve happened to me.”

According to figures from the FBI, the number of hate crimes committed against LGBT+ Americans increased in 2020 – representing one in five of all hate crimes, NBC News reported.

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