Vandalism of gay rights activist’s car seen as hate crime

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by Joe Arnold

WHAS11.com

Posted on March 25, 2013 at 6:19 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 25 at 11:37 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The vandalism of a prominent Louisville gay rights activist’s car is being investigated as a hate crime.

It happened late Saturday night outside a fundraiser for the Fairness Campaign and ACLU at the Muhammad Ali Center. 

 “It is an intentional mark of hate. It implies even potentially a death threat,” Chris Hartman, Fairness Campaign, said.

A swastika in the middle of a Fairness Campaign logo, a gay rights sticker defacing Barack Obama's image and  an f-word you to Obama's re-election.

 “It wasn’t violence against me physically but the damage of my property certainly insinuates that if I had been outside with the car, there's no telling what could have happened,” Hartman said.

At first, Chris Hartman saw that his car had been sideswiped.

“The mirror is what I noticed first,” Hartman said.

You can see the other vehicle's side view mirror left behind in this photo from Saturday night.
Police began investigating it as a hit and run, until they saw the swastika.

“At that point the LMPD First Division officer that responded immediately began investigating the incident as a hate crime,” Hartman said.

 “It's disturbing to hear that we're still having hate crimes in general in our society over the last four or five years we've investigated about 28 hate crimes,” Carolyn Miller-Cooper, Human Relations Commission, said.

Louisville's Human Relations Commission director says that's a rate three times greater than prior years.

The vandalism came just hours after the governor vetoed a bill the Fairness Campaign feared would undermine gay rights.

“This is yet another clear elucidation of why there need to be anti-discrimination protections for vulnerable populations as well as hate crime protections for those people too,” Hartman said.

Hartman says he doesn't know if he was being targeted as director of the Fairness Campaign. Metro police are investigating but had no comment as of Monday, March 25.
 

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