Gov. David A. Paterson has condemned the vandalism at a Bay Shore gay and lesbian center and said the state human rights commissioner would hold a public forum at the center this week.
In a statement Tuesday, Paterson called the vandalism "despicable." State human rights commissioner Galen Kirkland will hold the forum at the center tomorrow at 3 p.m.
It's his second visit to Suffolk in three months. He held community discussions after Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero was stabbed to death in Patch- ogue in November. Investigators say he was targeted by teens hunting for Hispanics to harass.
Donors have replaced the smashed windows and slashed tires on the van used by the Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth Center in Bay Shore, which was attacked by vandals on Monday.
But damage persists from the incident, which police are treating as a hate crime, according to the center's director and chief executive. "There are tons of shattered glass all over the place," said David Kilmnick, who founded the center 16 years ago.
Since news of the vandalism has spread, more than $10,000 in donations have come by phone and Internet to support the center, Kilmnick said.
"This was felt across the country," he said. "People are really impacted by it, and that's what makes it a hate crime."
"This whole incident just underscores the need for our center," Kilmnick added.
Suffolk police reported Monday that vandals had smashed the van's windows and mirrors, as well as destroyed the glass door of the center.
The investigation was ongoing, police said.
Kirkland said he hoped the youth center forum would draw out people's fears and concerns.
"We also want to hear about the climate in the community and explore if there are possibilities to collaborate with the folks" at the youth center, he said yesterday.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy was also scheduling a meeting with the center and police "to determine how we can support this organization at this difficult time," said spokesman Dan Aug.