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AIDS Issues Update Blog

Dispatches from the fight against homelessness and AIDS

Arson Destroys Women’s HIV Organization in New Orleans

Posted by kristin , May 31, 2012

Arson Destroys Women’s HIV Organization in New Orleans

Deon Haywood, Executive Director of Women With a Vision

In the wee hours of the morning on Friday, Deon Haywood, Executive Director of Women With A Vision in New Orleans received a call from the building landlord that a fire had destroyed their offices. Upon further inspection, it is clear that the fire was an intentional attack on the organization that does HIV prevention and advocacy on behalf of poor and low-income women (including lesbians, queer and transgender women) in New Orleans.

I spoke to Deon on Friday morning, who told me that she though the fire was an intentional attack on the organization as computers, laptops, and even company checks were not stolen.

“The worst damage was concentrated in our community organizing and outreach office where we store all of the resources we use to educate our community, said Haywood in a written statement about the incident. “We lost everything. We do not have an office to operate out of right now. Most of our office equipment and all of our educational resources were destroyed. Because of the targeted nature, we can only assume that this was intentional.”

Women With a Vision just came off celebrating a major political win. They were victorious in a lawsuit against the state of Louisiana on behalf of people convicted of prostitution who received an additional “crime against nature” charge (based on an 1802 law that banned homosexuality among a number of other sexual acts), which then meant a charge of “prostitution” turned into a “sex offender” charge, which made getting housing, public assistance, and employment nearly impossible. If convicted, one had to register as a sex offender for 10 years, and could be added on to if you were arrested or violated your parole or probation.

For those of us who are, and work with poor and low-income Black women, sex workers, and LGBT people who are marginalized from the mainstream, this attack is on all of us.

Watch the video below of Deon Haywood at the WWAV office after the fire, and then please donate to support their efforts to rebuild.

Follow the Update blog on Twitter @housingworks.

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