KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — An anti-trans banner and hate group stickers left at an LGBTQIA+ nonprofit in Knoxville has sparked an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Knoxville Police Department.
According to a KPD spokesperson, a threatening banner and East Tennessee Proud Boys stickers were left outside the Knox Pride Center on Chapman Highway sometime overnight Monday.
“The investigation is ongoing and efforts are underway to identify the person or persons responsible,” KPD spokesperson Scott Erland said. “The FBI has been notified and is assisting in the investigation.”
Knox Pride said they are working with authorities to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers and visitors of the center.
“This morning, we arrived at the center to find some hateful anti-trans rhetoric on a banner hung across our windows and door and some stickers from a local hate group. These items were removed in a matter of minutes and no permanent damage was done to the center. We are working with authorities and taking measures to ensure the safety of Knox Pride staff, volunteers and everyone who seeks services or attends events at the Center.
This morning also marks the beginning of National Transgender Awareness Week. This incident highlights not only the need for this week, but also the importance of our mission at the Knox Pride Community & Resource Center.
We stand firmly in this mission and will not be deterred from continuing to educate, celebrate, support, and affirm the Knoxville LGBTQIA+ community and our homeless neighbors. All events are going on as scheduled and we invite you to come support the Center as we carry out our mission.”Knox Pride
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Proud Boys are a hate group which self-describes themselves as, “an ‘anti-white guilt’ and ‘anti-political correctness’ group.”
This comes just weeks after antisemitic flyers were found in a West Knoxville neighborhood.
The Department of Homeland Security released a briefing in May that said, “domestic violence extremists and people who commit hate crimes have increased threats of violence against the LGBTQIA+ community within the last year.”