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Reading Community Leaders Condemn Anti-LGBT Hate Incident

Jun 03, 2020
LGBT Issues

Nearly seventy community leaders and organizations have issued the following joint statement:

We are deeply offended and saddened by the most recent incident of intimidation targeting our community: divisive fliers left at the LGBT Center of Reading on Friday May 29 by Patriot Front, a well-known white supremacist hate group. We stand together to say that cowardly acts of antagonism cannot divide us and will not be tolerated. We are strengthened by our diversity and we welcome all who are committed to building our community. June is PRIDE month, and we want to be clear that all people are welcome here and that the undersigned organizations, religious and secular, believe love is love and stand firmly against all expressions of hate.

Recently, we have learned of several incidents of hate infecting our community – online and in person. We stand against all such acts, regardless of who is being targeted, and we pledge to call out hate wherever we see it. We also call on the Pennsylvania legislature to strengthen PA’s hate crimes laws so that all Pennsylvanians are protected.

We are continuously reminded that racism, discrimination, and bias persist in dangerous and even lethal ways in this country. Bias unchecked by action festers; silence is complicity. We must be vigilant against hate in whatever form it takes.

We know that often such acts are not isolated incidents. If you have experienced or witnessed an act of hate or bias, we urge you to report it to local law enforcement, the Reading Human Relations Commission, and the Anti-Defamation League. By reporting incidents of hate and bias, we ensure that we can track what is happening and empower ourselves and our neighbors to take action to combat discrimination, racism, oppression and bigotry.

The undersigned hope you will be part of the effort to defeat hate. Please join us for a virtual community townhall on Tuesday June 9 at 7:00 pm. You can register here:

  1. Michelle Dech, Executive Director, LGBT Center of Greater Reading
  2. Shira Goodman, ADL Philadelphia region
  3. Stacey Taylor, President NAACP
  4. Senator Judy Schwank
  5. Representative Mark Rozzi
  6. Commissioner Kevin Barnhardt
  7. Mayor Eddie Moran
  8. Reading Human Relations Commission
  9. Councilwoman Donna Reed
  10. Denise Spivak, CEO CenterLink – The Community of LGBT Centers
  11. Adrian Shanker, ED/Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center
  12. Amanda Arbour, Executive Director, LGBT Center of Central Pennsylvania
  13. Jennifer Hanf, Upending Racism Founder
  14. Dear Reading
  15. Barrio Alegria
  16. Chris Winters, Olivet Boys & Girls Club
  17. Mike Toledo, Centro Hispano
  18. Berks Intercultural Alliance; John Morgan
  19. Craig Poole, GM DoubleTree by Hilton
  20. The Jewish Federation of Reading/Berks
  21. The Jewish Community Relations Council
  22. Dr. Joseph Birli, CEO Bethany Children’s Home
  23. Abilities in Motion
  24. Safe Berks
  25. Elise Chesson, Executive Director, Family Promise of Berks County
  26. Mary’s Shelter
  27. SARCC of Lebanon County & Schuylkill Counties
  28. Carolyn Bazik, Executive director,  Co-County Wellness Services
  29. Berks Teens Matter
  30. Reading Pride Celebration
  31. The Spectrum, Planned Parenthood Keystone
  32. William Franklin, Greater Reading Unity Coalition
  33. Dele Olaewe, Pagoda Apparel/Cure Sports, LLC
  34. Pastor Carol Kehler, Nativity Lutheran Church & St. Paul Lutheran Church
  35. Rev. Stephen Ohnsman, Calvary UCC Reading
  36. Rev. Dr. Sandra Fees, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Berks County
  37. Douglas F. Didyoung, Sr. SALM and on behalf of St. Marks’ Lutheran Church Congregation Council.
  38. Rev. Alan Wolkenhauer, Trinity Lutheran Church Reading
  39. Deaconess Deborah Matern Graf, Trinity Lutheran Church Reading
  40. Congregation of Trinity Lutheran Church
  41. Pastor Katie Lyon, Christ Lutheran Church
  42. Elsayed Elmarzouky, Islamic Center
  43. Rev. Aaron Decker, Faith Lutheran Church
  44. Pastor John Richter, Northeast PA Synod/ELCA
  45. Pastor Robert Argot, Holy Spirit Lutheran Church Reading
  46. Rev. Megan Huesgen, Immanuel United Church of Christ, Shillington
  47. Rev. Michael Ware, Robeson Lutheran Church Mohnton
  48. Rev. Sonja Ware St. John’s German Lutheran Church, Reading PA
  49. Rabbi Brian Michelson, Reform Congregation Oheb Sholom
  50. Rabbi/Hazzan David B. Sislen, Kesher Zion Synagogue
  51. Deacon Kathy Yenser, St. John’s Lutheran Church, Reading
  52. Deacon Tom Yenser, Atonement Lutheran Church, Wyomissing
  53. Rev. Julie P. Recher, Atonement, Lutheran Church, Wyomissing
  54. Rev. Ryan Michael Hersch, Atonement Lutheran Church, Wyomissing
  55. Tim Greusel, President, LGBT Center of Greater Reading
  56. Bethany Bower, Vice President, LGBT Center of Greater Reading
  57. Benjamin Wilson, Treasurer, LGBT Center of Greater Reading
  58. Lynette Matson, Secretary, LGBT Center of Greater Reading
  59. Michael Shaffer, board member, LGBT Center of Greater Reading
  60. Benedict Renkus, board member, LGBT Center of Greater Reading
  61. Shawn Barczynski, board member, LGBT Center of Greater Reading
  62. Sarah Morin, board member, LGBT Center of Greater Reading
  63. Tracy Parmer, board member, LGBT Center of Greater Reading
  64. Kai Miller, board member, LGBT Center of Greater Reading
  65. Dane Miller, Owner and Master Coach of Garage Strength Sports Performance
  66. Ann Criswell
  67. Teresa Caligaris
  68. Santo D. Marabella
  69. Johanny Cepeda, Mi Casa Su Casa

The LGBT Center of Greater Reading creates, administers, and provides services, advocacy, and support to the Greater Reading LGBTQ+ community, including our allies, with the goal that all may live a life of fulfillment, inclusion and celebration. More at

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of bigotry, its timeless mission is to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of bigotry occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate. More at

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s Reading Branch at

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