Tulsa organization offers safe place to LGBTQ+ community following warning from DHS

TULSA, Okla. — The Department of Homeland Security is warning LGBTQ+, Jewish, and immigrant communities of domestic terror threats, just weeks after the deadly mass shooting at a club in Colorado Springs.

Here in Tulsa, vandals have marked Pride signs at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center. Shots were also fired at the facility, which offers multiple programs to community members.

Dorothy Ballad is the Director at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center.

“We have bullet-resistant glass, and the door that was shot is part of our history archive room” said Ballard. “It’s actually the room where we keep all of those things to commemorate the event and to remind people that even though we’ve had so many advances, both legislatively and in general, the attitudes of people show that we are still a very marginalized community, and a very much at-risk community.

Following the Colorado Springs shooting, investigators with Homeland Security say Americans who are motivated by violent ideologies pose a threat.

Ballard said she’s making sure that the Equality Center is always a safe space.

“We always have security on site for any public events that we’re running. We have a camera system and panic buttons around for our staff and volunteers just as safety precautions,” said Ballard. “Later this month, we have a liaison from the FBI coming out to meet with us. One of their civil rights agents will speak with us about not only the heightened threat, but what we’re doing as an organization to keep our clients and staff members safe.”

Tulsa police told FOX23 last month they are patrolling the LGBTQ+ bars more to provide more security. This comes weeks after a Tulsa donut shop was vandalized twice in one month after hosting a drag event.

The Equality Center is hosting an open house Thursday night from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., where staff members will go into detail about how they are making the facility a safe place.