BOYSTOWN — The Center on Halsted’s windows have been boarded up since Sunday after receiving anonymous anti-LGBTQ threats during last weekend’s unrest.
According to CEO Modesto Tico Valle, the Center received anonymous calls saying “you’re next and they were coming for our building to bust the windows out.”
When Valle later released a statement supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, the harassment continued.
“Then I got some hate mail basically spewing hate about Black Lives Matter,” Valle said. “It goes to show we still have a lot of work to do.”
Police instructed Valle to take the threats seriously, so the windows along the Center and adjoining Whole Foods storefront were boarded up on Sunday, he previously told the Windy City Times.
“It really saddens me because this is the week of our 13th anniversary and the beginning of Pride Month,” Valle told Block Club Chicago on Friday.
The Center on Halsted opened on June 1, 2007, at 3656 N. Halsted St.
On Monday — exactly 13 years since its opening — at least a thousand protesters marched past the building during a protest demanding justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and other victims of police violence.
Protesters used the Center on Halsted’s boarded up windows to create a station where supporters could make their own protest signs.
Valle said he saw the protest and thought it was “great to see people expressing themselves through the march and posters.”
In an emailed statement on Tuesday, Valle encouraged people to “continue to raise your voice up to create the change that is needed for equity of Black and Brown people across this country.”
The large wooden boards still lined the Center on Friday. Valle said he hopes to take them down this week, but it depends on guidance from the adjoining Whole Foods store.
In the meantime, community members have offered to draw positive artwork on the wooden boards.
“The beautiful artwork will be nice, but we’re hoping they won’t stay up much longer,” Valle said. “To have the Center on Halsted boarded up— this is not what we created here.”
The Center on Halsted began its soft reopening on Wednesday after months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Valle said many of its services — virtual therapy and other limited telehealth programs — will still be offered virtually, but people can schedule in-person visits by appointment only for HIV testing.
The Center on Halsted is also collecting donations for residents at its LGBTQ-friendly senior center and collecting donations online.
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Boystown and Lincoln Park for Block Club Chicago.
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