A letter from Equality Ohio’s Public Policy Director, Maria Bruno:
Dear Community, Partners and Allies,
Before we head into the Memorial Day weekend, there are crucial safety updates that pertain to our community. I want to bring your attention to three significant safety advisories recently issued by Equality Florida, the NAACP, and the Department of Homeland Security, particularly concerning people of color and the LGBTQ+ community.
TRAVEL ADVISORY TO FLORIDA
On Saturday, the NAACP Board of Directors issued a travel advisory for the state of Florida for people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals. This comes after a similar travel advisory was issued by Equality Florida last month.
We shouldn’t have to live in fear, but we know that many Ohioans vacation in Florida, and that many could be traveling this upcoming weekend. We want you to have all the information to ensure you can make informed decisions about what’s best for you.
While Ohio certainly faces safety and civil rights risks right now, we take these travel advisories seriously and encourage caution if you are traveling to Florida in the near future.
DOMESTIC TERRORISM ADVISORY
On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security issued a safety advisory, warning of an increased threat of violence against “US critical infrastructure, faith-based institutions, individuals or events associated with the LGBTQIA+ community, schools, racial and ethnic minorities, and government facilities and personnel, including law enforcement.” A similar warning was issued late last year, and indeed, we’ve seen several hate groups and white supremacists plan anti-LGBTQ+ actions in recent months. The DHS advisory provides several resource links and advice on staying safe:
Stay Informed and Prepared
- Be prepared for emergency situations and remain aware of circumstances that may place you at risk. Make note of your surroundings and the nearest security personnel.
- Keep yourself safe online and maintain digital and media literacy to recognize and build resilience to false or misleading narratives.
- Review Department of Homeland Security (DHS) resources for how to better protect businesses, houses of worship, and schools, and ensure the safety of public gatherings.
- Prepare for potential active shooter incidents, build counter-improvised explosive device capabilities, and enhance awareness of terrorist threats, to include bomb threats.
- Learn more about community-based resources including Community Awareness Briefings to help prevent individuals from radicalizing to violence.
- The Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative (NSI) is a collaborative effort by DHS, the FBI, and law enforcement partners to identify and report threats of terrorism and other related criminal activity.
- The Power of Hello Campaign and De-Escalation Series help you observe and evaluate suspicious behaviors, including information to mitigate potential risks, and obtain help when necessary.
- View webinars on Building Partnerships, and Preventing Targeted Violence and Protecting the Safety and Security of Houses of Worship.
DHS Domestic Terrorism Advisory, May 24, 2023
These are certainly dark times, and sometimes just living our authentic lives can feel dangerous. That’s why it’s important to keep in mind: In the face of hateful people rooting against us, remember that your joy is the ultimate act of resistance.
Have a safe, peaceful weekend, and the entire EO team wishes you endless joy and happiness.
Maria Bruno, Public Policy Director