Donations being accepted for Saturday repair of 18-year-old’s vandalized home; nearly 40 volunteers have already signed up

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 13, 2013

CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office, 786-363-2737,

PENSACOLA – This Saturday, groups from all across the Greater Pensacola area are coming together to help repair a local teenager’s home that was vandalized in an anti-gay hate crime. The repair effort has brought together members of local youth groups, Christian organizations like the Pensacola World Changers and civil rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida.

Jesse Jeffers, a gay 18-year-old living in Pace, Florida, came home on February 3rd to discover that the mobile home in which he lives had been spray-painted with anti-gay slurs, swastikas, the letters “KKK” on the front door, as well as the message “God don’t love you,” with a heart in place of the word “love.” The inside of the home was also vandalized, with multiple surfaces spray-painted, including a large red swastika on the ceiling.

“There are few things that could make you feel more violated than what Jesse suffered: having your home invaded and vandalized, especially when the motivation is hatred toward your very identity,” stated Sara Latshaw, northwest Florida regional organizer for the ACLU of Florida, who helped coordinate the repair effort. “No one in our community should have to go through that. That’s why this diverse group of volunteers is coming together to support him. We want to show that everyone deserves to be free from being abused for who they are, and that this community will not stand for this kind of hatred.”

The vandalism of Jeffers’ home was classified as a hate crime by the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s office. Within days of the vandalism, groups began coordinating a response to show solidarity against hate crimes in the community.

“No matter whether or not we agree on everything else, we can agree that we must not stand for acts of hate in our community,” stated Mark Taylor of Pensacola World Changers, a Christian volunteer organization that is coordinating volunteers and donations. “It’s important that no matter what we believe, we have to prove that hate is not the answer. We should be able to stand together to help clean up for Jesse and make this right.”

So far, 37 people have signed up to volunteer for Saturday’s cleanup on a Facebook event created for Jesse, and others have agreed to attend through the groups involved.

Donations are being accepted at