Lansing Community Center halts operations after weekend vandalism

Vandalism over the weekend left a community center on the north side of Lansing in ruins. The Advancement Corporation or AC3 Community Center, a one-stop-shop for resources and support, is temporarily closing for cleaning. It is located on the site of the former Otto Junior High School building.

On Sunday evening, the Lansing Police Department was called after a staff member discovered three shattered windows.

DJ Knox Jr., one of AC3’s co-directors, believes most of the damage occurred after police left.

“Our porcelain drinking fountains destroyed everything. They also ruined our gym which had just been completely renovated. They trashed it. They also tore down the curtains in our auditorium,” he said. “And just a lot of stuff they painted on our antique floors, some pretty derogatory comments.”

Knox says windows on all three floors were smashed and they also discovered signs from Emily Dievendorf’s campaign for State House strewn across the floor.

“They painted some of our woodwork and spray painted the lockers and the walls, then found all the fire extinguishers they could find in the building and emptied them all over the building,” he said. added.

Dievendorf, who is running for Michigan’s 77th State House District, had used the space to stage his campaign. She did not respond to a request for comment at the time this story was published.

Due to the damage, Knox says they had to temporarily suspend all services.

Broken wooden chairs at the site of the old Otto High School building in North Lansing.
Broken wooden chairs at the site of the old Otto High School building in North Lansing.

“It really touched us because, on the one hand, we serve children and families there every day,” he said. “So a lot of these things that were happening where we were serving the community have now had to stop because we want to make sure that we’re cleaning dust from fire extinguishers in a safe and environmental way.”

The center had helped community members with job placement, access to housing and educational support.

“It’s designed for someone who may need food aid. They have to go to a few different things to do it or have to jump through a lot of different hoops to get that food aid,” Knox said. “We wanted to make sure that we had enough services under one roof, so that people in need, but also people who just wanted to help, could come to a place and be able to do that, get the help they need.”

He says they had also recently opened a medical clinic that served infants and young children.

“We had just renovated it, new walls, new drywall and paint, the whole nine yards, but they had trashed the clinic and sprayed dust material from the fire extinguishers.”

The organization’s co-director, LaShawn Erby says they suffered thousands of dollars in damages.

One of many broken windows in the Advancement Corporation Community Center
One of many broken windows in the Advancement Corporation Community Center

“We put so much effort into building a beautiful place for the community, but … it made me more determined to do what we wanted, which is to turn out to be something good,” she said.

Knox said he believed he knew who the suspect was, but was waiting for police to do their due diligence.

“From what we saw with the damage, we know it was personal…it was a passionate rage,” he said. “So unfortunately that anger and rage was badly misplaced and has now affected a whole community of people and people who had nothing to do with it.”

In an email, Lansing Police Department public information officer Jordan Gulkis said officers were dispatched to the center Sunday evening.

“The building’s cameras weren’t working. We were briefed on the damage inside and got some suspicious information which was passed on to our detectives,” Gulkis said.

Although the organization has insurance to fall back on, Knox Jr. says it won’t allow the center to open immediately, which is why they’re fundraising.

Jill E. Washington