Advancement Corporation Community Center ransacked in vandalism

LANSING — A former college in north Lansing, now used as a full-service community center, suffered nearly $100,000 in damage due to an act of vandalism, according to the head of the organization that operates it.

Advancement Corporation Community Center (AC3), a resource center and gathering space for underserved and marginalized communities in Lansing, is temporarily closed after being ransacked Sunday night, said Derrick “DJ” Knox Jr., president of the Michigan Poor Campaign (MPPC).

“It’s unfortunate that some people are so myopic that they can’t see the number of people affected,” Knox said. “It’s been a grueling year of blood, sweat and tears to come to this. And for them to spend a night with so much hate and rage to destroy this…it’s sad.”

The damage, Knox said, includes shattered windows, smashed porcelain fountains, spray-painted swear words, torn stage curtains in the former Otto High School auditorium, emptied fire extinguishers and more. Damage was caused to most wings of the building, including the gymnasium, medical and mental health clinics, and auditorium.

Knox said repairs and replacement of items could cost up to $90,000. The vandalism interrupted the operations of about 18 community organizations that provide resources and services from the center, including recreational sports for young people, medical care, tutoring and a young adult learning program.

How AC3 meets the needs of residents:Reinvent Lansing’s former Otto High School into a community center

Knox said the vandalism likely happened in multiple incidents overnight.

The first case occurred when about three exterior windows were smashed around 9 p.m. Knox said police were called and when they arrived they scanned the building.

In an email, Lansing Police Director of Public Information Jordan Gulkis said police responded at around 9:36 p.m.

“The building’s cameras weren’t working. There are no suspects in custody,” Gulkis said. “No damage found inside. No suspects at this time.”

After the police left, Knox said, the majority of the vandalism happened.

“It must have been almost immediately after the police left. Whoever it was, they had to hide,” Knox said. “They went through the hallway and just broke every piece of glass they could find. Showcase, door glass, every shard.”

Gulkis said police were only notified of damage to exterior windows. But Knox said AC3 staff alerted them to the additional damage and a police report was filed.

Katie Anderson offers individual mental health coaching and group therapy from the community center through her business, Healing With Katie. Anderson said the vandalism has been a trigger event for some clients, causing them to cancel appointments in recent days.

“It caused a lot of extra stress, extra trauma where we had to backtrack with my clients’ healing processes because of the vandalism in the building,” Anderson said.

On a stained floor in one of the center’s main hallways, the vandals spray-painted offensive language.

Scattered near the painting, Knox said, were campaign signs for Democratic state House candidate Emily Dievendorf, who won the 77th District primary earlier this month.

The Dievendorf campaign office is centrally located. She could not immediately be reached for comment.

Knox said community organizers are working to pick up the pieces at AC3. They accept donations through Advancement Corporation’s PayPal account, accessible on this link.

Additionally, Advancement Corporation is planning a community cleanup at the center at 2 p.m. Friday.

Repairs will be made, but they will take time, Knox said. The reorganization of the community center has been an ongoing, grassroots-funded process. Although the building is insured, many programs will be delayed or may be derailed due to damage.

“We have children who now depend on it on a daily basis,” Knox said. “Things that were meant to go to further renovations now have to go to fix what they broke.”

Contact journalist Jared Weber at 517-582-3937 or [email protected]

Jill E. Washington