SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) — Pride Month brings many people together, but it also serves as a reminder of the hate those who identify with the LGBTQ community face every day. Massachusetts officials are calling attention to the rise in hate crimes and violence across the state.
Western Massachusetts has experienced several examples of hate crime in all different communities. Because of this, the state is allocating over a million dollars to try to prevent incidents from happening.
“It’s just a terrible commentary on where we are as a society, but it is where we are, so I think we need to acknowledge that we need to get this money to these organizations to put these protections in place right now,” said Sen. Eric Lesser.
Western Massachusetts isn’t immune to hate crimes. The attempted bombing of Ruth’s House in Longmeadow, the arson at the MLK Community Presbyterian Church in Springfield, and violence towards the LGBTQ community are some examples in recent years.
“Black and indigenous trans women who are part of our community continue to be disproportionally killed and disproportionally targeted with violence,” said Johnny Miranda of Chicopee Cultural Council.
The state has now allocated $1.5 million for the Nonprofit Security Grant program. With it, “They can do things like install fencing, install shatterproof glass, install surveillance systems, set up direct alarm systems to law enforcement so that they are protected,” said Lesser.
Lesser co-created the program in 2017, since then, funding has increased more than 10 times. Any organization, place of worship, or community center is eligible, and can apply by contacting Lesser’s office.