West Hollywood, California (Monday, March 30, 2009) – Sometime on Thursday night, and again on Saturday night, vandals desecrated two trees honoring two of the gay community’s icons in the West Hollywood’s Matthew Shepard Human Rights Triangle at Crescent Heights and Santa Monica Boulevard.
The trees, one a flowering Chinese Magnolia and the other a California Live Oak, suffered considerable damage in the attacks.
Morris Kight, who died just weeks after his tree’s planting in 2002, was honored at that time for his pioneering of the gay movement; founding Gay Pride, co-founding the LA Gay & Lesbian Center, Stonewall Democratic Club are just a sampling of his achievement.
Ivy Bottini, who serves on the WeHo Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board, was honored at the same time for her part in the founding of the LAGLC, her work in AIDS activism and her leadership in the city on gay issues.
The park was dedicated to Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming man who was tortured and killed by homophobes.
The park also contains a memorial commemorating the AB101 struggles in 1991 that turned out all of California’s gay in a fortnight of protests against a broken promise to sign a discrimination bill made by a Republican governor.
The trees were chosen by the honorees themselves, with the flowering magnolia belonging to Mr. Kight and the live oak to Ms. Bottini.
The magnolia suffered the worst of the vandalism, being a softer, faster growing wood.
Its limbs were mostly torn off the tree, with the branches left lying around the tree in a heap.
The oak tree suffered minor damage to its smaller branches, but the tree was also toppled, leaving it wobbling in the soil.
Inquiries into the incident on Friday with the LA County Sheriff, the city’s public information officer and the Landscape and Maintenance director went unanswered.
As of Monday morning, no maintenance had yet been performed on the trees – the branches continue to lie about the magnolia and the oak stands at an awkward angle.