Mayor Jim Naugle of Fort Lauderdale has once again used his office to spread fear and hate about the gay community. In the latest city newsletter, paid for by the city and available on the city's website, Naugle again used misinformation and bigotry to paint the LGBT community as predators and a danger.
In the official Mayor's message, on the very first page of the newsletter, Naugle again makes the claim that gay men are making our parks and public places unsafe for children and that we need to be "curtailing these illegal activities in the future." This echoes his continued attacks and claims that he wants to "stop an attempt by gays to take over Fort Lauderdale."
This newsletter, mailed to businesses and homes across the city, was sent out on February 16, 2008, only days before both the tragic shooting of Simmie Williams Jr and the savage gay-bashing on Las Olas Blvd. We cannot deny the dangerous effects of Mayor Naugle's words any longer.
How much longer will our city allow Naugle to incite hate and violence towards the LGBT community?
Have we so soon forgotten when Naugle held a press conference in City Hall this summer with so-called "religious" leaders (including the paramilitary-clad director of the men's ministry at Koinonia Worship Center, Mathes Guice, who's myspace page features the sounds of gunfire and battle) and made the call to "take back the streets of Fort Lauderdale from the homosexual community" and "transform Fort Lauderdale and Broward County into the Bible Belt of South Florida" because the LGBT community has "led the spiritual community on a collision course with Satan" (Sun-Sentinel, Sept 4, 2007). The Rev. Aaron Wiggins of Pompano also said, "This will not stand and we will stop it by any means necessary." Both men vowed to do whatever it takes to fend off the campaign waged by "gay activists" against Naugle (Broward Times, Sept 7 2007).
This is an unmistakable call to violence.
Unfortunately, that call has been answered.
This type of dangerous rhetoric directly leads to an atmosphere of hate and violence. We have seen the effects of this atmosphere in the murder of Simmie Williams and the beating of Melbourne Brunner. For leaders like Naugle to use their office to attack an entire community is unacceptable. For the City of Fort Lauderdale to use tax dollars to print and send this message out into the community is outrageous.
We demand that the city IMMEDIATELY remove this inflammatory language from its site and never again use our tax dollars to attack residents and further create an dangerous environment of violence and hate.
We also demand that leaders on all levels speak out against hatred and bigotry and the violence it has created in our community.
Contact the Fort Lauderdale City Commission and demand they act!