Friday, July 4, 2008

Wingspan AVP Responds To Alleged Bias Crime Incident

TUCSON - The Wingspan Anti-Violence Program (AVP) has received information that an alleged bias-based crime occurred in Tucson in early May 2008. Details about the incident are not yet available. The Wingspan AVP, a unit of Wingspan, Southern Arizona Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community center asks community members to be vigilant about bias-based violence in Southern Arizona.

Bias-based violence is violence motivated by prejudices against a specific group of people. Incidents of bias- or hate-motivated violence (often called hate crimes) are committed against people of color, homeless people, elderly people, people with disabilities, immigrants, and LGBT people. These acts range from vandalism to harassment to assault to murder. The LGBT community is vulnerable to bias violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects, a coalition of programs that document and advocate for victims of anti-LGBT and anti-HIV/AIDS violence, 2007 Anti-LGBT Violence Annual Report noted an alarming 24% increase in total number of victims reporting incidents of anti-LGBT violence on a national level. This information is based on statistics reported by over 30 LGBT Anti-Violence Programs nationwide.

The Wingspan AVP offers survivors of violence free and confidential advocacy services. AVP staff can assist survivors with the process of reporting violence to law enforcement, accessing community resources and safety planning.

The Wingspan AVP offers the following safety tips to the community: Use the Buddy System, Don’t go places alone and don’t let your buddies go alone. Stay in well-lit areas. Try to keep out of dark allies and corners. When walking up to your car, look into the back seat before getting inside. When at parties and bars, only drink beverages that you or a close friend gets.

If you are walking and you feel like you are being followed you can do the following things as you feel appropriate: Stay calm but walk faster. Look behind you. Hold your keys in your hand (in case you are attacked). Scream. Walk up to a stranger and tell them. Go to a business that is open and go inside. Use a phone to call 9-1-1. Do not go home! Do not go to a friend’s house!

If you are being followed in a vehicle use the following safety tips: Stay calm and drive the speed limit. Lock all your doors. Close all your windows. Call 9-1-1 from your cell phone. Stay on well-lit, major streets. Drive to a 24-hour business or a police station. Run into the 24-hour business and talk to the clerk. Do not go home! Do not go to a friend’s house!

When going out with someone you don’t know well, go out with a group of friends. Be cautious of folks wanting you to meet strangers.

To schedule an appointment with Wingspan AVP please call the main Wingspan number, 520-624-1779, or email In an emergency, please call the crisis line at 520-624-0348 or 800-553-9387.

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