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Experts weigh in on how local LGBTQ+ allies can help prevent hate, violence – CBS19 News

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12 hrs 53 mins ago

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) — Federal authorities are on alert after police in Idaho say they prevented a possible domestic terror attack over the weekend.

Thirty-one members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front were arrested on suspicion of plotting to violently disrupt a gay pride event.

An area expert on white nationalist groups and a local queer advocate explain how people can work toward preventing extremist views of hatred and possible violence.

They both agree that the answer to hate is for allies to speak up.

“We’ve seen a rise in what I would call Christian Fascism,” said Anna, an expert on White Nationalist groups who asked to not have her last name used.

A new video shows Idaho police swarming a U-Haul truck near a weekend pride celebration in the town of Coeur D’Alene, Idaho.

Jammed inside were alleged members of a white supremacist organization called the Patriot Front and what appeared to be riot gear. Local media outlets report that only one person inside the truck was from Idaho, while the others were from across the country, including Virginia.

“This was a riotous group that had prepared in advance to come downtown and disrupt either the pride event or the prayer in the park event or just riot downtown,” said Police Chief Lee White.

Anna says that recently passed laws, like Florida’s “don’t say gay bill,” are linked to extremism.

“It gives a platform to people who have these bigoted views and saying, well we’ve codified this bigoted view so people can feel more empowered to spread their hate,” she said.

“A rainbow sticker or pronouns or an ally is what our eyes look for to know that we are a little bit safer,” said Jason Elliott, a local queer advocate and member of the LGBTQ+ community.

Elliott says there are easy ways allies can help keep queer communities safe, and it begins with speaking up against hate.

“Speak up when we are present and we need that support but more importantly speak up when we are not we’re not present to defend ourselves,” he said.

While Elliott says he has always felt safe as a member of the LGBTQ+ community in Charlottesville, that isn’t enough, and more can be done.

“There is also a distinction between feeling safe, and welcome, and equal. So while I may always feel safe, I may not always feel equal and I may not always feel welcomed,” he added.

He says everyday acts from allies are big, but a major improvement would be safe spaces in law enforcement agencies, health care, and schools.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to be an ally or want to get involved with the queer community locally, click here.

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