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Update September 2, 2016:

ALI FORNEY CENTER TO ORGANIZE PROTEST OF ATLAH CHURCH IN RESPONSE TO THREAT TO BURN THE RAINBOW FLAG

The Ali Forney Center (AFC), the nation's largest and most comprehensive organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth, announces that it is organizing a demonstration to protest ATLAH Church's plan to burn the rainbow flag. Yesterday, Rev. James Manning posted a sign indicating his intent to burn the rainbow flag as a "victory celebration" in response to a recent court order relating to his ongoing foreclosure case by the City of New York for lack of payment of city utility bills.

"Reverend Manning's threat to burn the rainbow flag in the courtyard of his church is reprehensible, especially in the aftermath of the Orlando Massacre,” said Carl Siciliano, founder and executive director of AFC. "We plan to surround his church with rainbow flags, the symbol of our pride as a community, to show that our pride cannot be destroyed, symbolically or otherwise. The best response to his hate is a display of community love and pride by the LGBT community and our allies,” said Siciliano.       

This week a court order was released in the ATLAH foreclosure case, restoring the case to the calendar. This vacates the foreclosure while ATLAH is able to make its argument to the court that the foreclosure should not proceed because the church is tax exempt. The NYC Dept. of Environmental protection has previously determined that ATLAH does not qualify for an exemption from paying their water bills because the church facility includes six residential apartments. It is anticipated that these legal proceedings will drag on for many months before a final determination is made.

"Rev. Manning's declaration of victory is premature.", adds Siciliano. "All he has won for now is the opportunity to incur many further legal costs as he tries to escape the consequences of decades of failure to pay ATLAH's water bills."

"Furthermore, I strongly suspect that the ATLAH facility would not qualify for an exemption, not only because of the residential apartments, but also because of the film studio Manning has had constructed in the space, where he regularly films videos promoting politicians he endorses, and attacking their opponents. It is my understanding that such use of the ATLAH facility very likely violates the requirements for tax exempt organizations", says Siciliano.

More information:

In January of 2016, it was revealed in the media that the ATLAH site had been foreclosed, and would be auctioned due to liens of over $1 Million. At that time the Ali Forney Center launched the Harlem No Hate campaign to raise funds to win the building at auction, with the goal of providing housing and vocational services to the homeless LGBT youth in it's care. The AFC drop-in center, which is located three blocks from the ATLAH site, serves over 1,200 homeless LGBT youths per year. Since launching the Harlem No Hate campaign over 3,000 supporters have donated over $330K towards AFC's efforts to acquire the building. AFC has committed to utilize those funds to acquire additional space to house homeless LGBT youth if it is not able to acquire the ATLAH site. Currently AFC has over 200 young people on the waiting list for it's shelter beds.

In 2013, Manning began to use a sign that he put up outside the church facility, in violation of NYC Landmark laws, to post a series of incendiary messages calling for violence against LGBT people. 

Since learning that Manning has threatened to burn rainbow flags in the ATLAH courtyard, AFC is monitoring the situation. If we are able to determine when will this occur, we will try to organize a counter-protest to happen simultaneously. If that is not able to happen we will mount a counter-protest shortly after his flag burning. We will keep you posted.

 


Update August 30, 2016:

An order has been issued by the judge hearing the ATLAH foreclosure case. This order has restored the case to the calendar. This means that ATLAH will have the opportunity to present their argument in court that they should be found to be exempt from having to pay their water bills that led to the foreclosure, and the City of New York and the Department of Environmental Protection will have the opportunity to argue that ATLAH is not exempt from paying those bills. The ability for the auction to proceed will hinge on whether ATLAH is found to be exempt.

We anticipate that it will be a number of months before this case is resolved, and the Ali Forney Center is continuing to monitor the situation in the hope of being able to purchase the ATLAH building as a site to house the homeless LGBT youths in our care.


Update July 12, 2016:

Dear friends,

On Wednesday June 29th, a court hearing was held regarding the temporary stay that has been put on the foreclosure of the ATLAH church. I attended the hearing with an attorney from Winston & Strawn, a firm that has generously offered us pro bono assistance through our building acquisition process. During the hearing ATLAH's attorneys argued that they should have the opportunity to challenge the foreclosure order in court, and the attorneys representing the lien holder on the building and the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) argued that the foreclosure should proceed without further hearings. Now we are awaiting the judge's decision on whether or not to give ATLAH the opportunity to make a further legal challenge to the foreclosure.
 
The background is ATLAH's contention that as a church they are exempt from the water and sewage bills that led to the foreclosure. ATLAH has been applying for this exemption since the 1980's, but the DEP has never granted them this exemption, because the building includes several residential apartments. The DEP has suggested that ATLAH install seperate water meters for the part of the building that functions as a church, and the part of the building that functions as a residence, and apply for an exemption for the part that solely functions as a church, but ATLAH has never done this. For more info see this New York Times article.
 
Our attorneys advise us that it is likely that this matter will remain in court for months. At this point our plan is to reserve the funds that have been raised towards purchasing ATLAH in auction, and wait for the legal resolution, continuing with our efforts to obtain the building in auction when it might occur. If, at some point in the future it becomes clear that the building will not become available, or if it becomes clear that it will be tied up in legal challenges for years to come, then we will seek to obtain another site in which to expand our housing for the homeless LGBT youth whom we serve.
 
A strong argument can be made that we should start seeking another site now. My inclination to wait is based on two factors. First, many people, including neighborhood activists who have been protesting ATLAH's anti-LGBT hatred as well as many of our donors, are very desirous of seeing the Ali Forney Center obtain the building. I think it is important to respect those desires. Second, we currently are in the fortunate position of having our hands full developing other residential sites for our youths. We are in the last stages of the renovations to the Bea Arthur Residence, which we hope to open in the next nine months. And we are in the process of developing another new residence for our youths in Queens on property that has been generously made available to us by the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, and with funds that have just been awarded to us by the New York City Council and the Queens Borough President. 
 
I will certainly continue to update you of the legal status on the ATLAH foreclosure, and I welcome any questions, comments or advice. Whatever the final outcome, whether we obtain the ATLAHsite, or end up needing to use the $330K in donated funds to obtain another site, our homeless LGBT youths will end up greatly benefiting from your kindness and support. It is very moving to me that all of you have been able to respond to Rev Manning's hatred and incitements to violence against LGBT people with love and generosity towards our most vulnerable youths.
 
With much gratitude,
 
Carl Siciliano

 


 

 

Update April 19:

The Atlah Church hearing has been postponed to June 1st. We will be providing additional information as it becomes available. 

Update 10:

Watch this powerful, disturbing video from MSNBC highlighting the anti-LGBT hatred promoted by ATLAH church, and the efforts of the Ali Forney Center to turn it into a space of love and safety for homeless LGBTQ youths. The court hearing on the foreclosure of the church is Thursday April 21st.

VIDEO HERE


Update 9:

We have raised over 330k from over 3k donors. We are continuing to raise funds with the hope of acquiring the Atlah building, we are currently researching details of the building including the condition of the building, violations or issues attached to the building. We have secured the proton assistance of Winston and Strawn to support our legal needs throughout the acquisition process. We are hopeful that after the hearing on April 21, that the building will proceed quickly to auction. Consider making a donation on this page to support our efforts. 


Update 8:

Check out the Daily Show's report on our #HarlemNoHate campaign to turn a place of hatred and bigotry into a home for LGBT youth.

Update 7:

Dear Harlem No Hate Supporter,

We want to provide an update regarding our efforts to obtain the ATLAH hate church building at auction.
 
The foreclosure auction, which had been set for Wednesday February 24th following the foreclosure of the building last December, has been delayed due to a temporary restraining order granted by New York State Supreme Court. The restraining order is in effect until a hearing on April 21st.
 
While we urgently desire to see ATLAH church cease their messages of hatred and incitements of violence against the LGBT community, especially in light of the safety of the young people we serve several blocks from the church, we welcomed the delay. We have been fortunate to obtain the pro-bono services of a major law firm, Winston & Strawn, to assist us in all matters of our building acquisition process, and they have advised that it is more advantageous for us to have the added time to thoroughly research the conditions of the building prior to making a bid for it at auction.
 
Since January 29th, over 3,000 indivduals have donated a total of $315K to the Harlem No Hate campaign. Whether we end up acquiring the ATLAH site at auction, or end up needing to use these funds to acquire another housing site if we are unable to acquire the ATLAH site, we are profoundly grateful that you have stepped up in such a remarkable way to support and protect our homeless LGBT youths, who have been so harmed by the anti-LGBT hatred promoted by ATLAH.
 
We will continue to update you as we learn more, and as the hearing occurs. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have.
 
Thank you for your kindness, generosity and support.
 
Carl Siciliano

Executive Director

Update 6:

We have learned that there is a delay with the auction scheduled for next week. We will be providing additional information as it becomes available.


Update 5:

AFC is continuing to fundraise as we prepare for the auction. We will need as much support as possible to be strong contenders in the auction. Any donation is greatly appreciated and will benefit the Harlem No Hate Campaign and costs associated with the purchase of the Atlah Hate Church. 

Update 4:

Less than two weeks after the ATLAH church, home of virulently anti-LGBT Rev. James David Manning, announced it had been foreclosed and was being put up for auction, the Ali Forney Center launched the #harlemnohate campaign and has raised $200,000 as an initial goal towards buying the building to provide housing for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) homeless youth in Harlem.

“It has been an extraordinary two weeks,” said Carl Siciliano, Excutive Director and Founder of the Ali Forney Center. “We have been overwhelmed with support and encouragement and now have the opportunity to turn a place that has promoted hatred and violence into a safe space for LGBT homeless youth,” continued Siciliano.

“Ali Forney, who inspired the founding of the organization, was murdered in Harlem in 1997, only 12 blocks from ATLAH. In 2013 Islan Nettles was beaten to death in Harlem only one mile from ATLAH. Could there be a more just outcome to the ATLAH foreclosure than that the young LGBT people most endangered by the hatred and contempt Manning promotes would take over his building?” said Siciliano.

“AFC’s acquiring the beautiful and historic building that now stands as a symbol of hate would be extraordinary, but the bottom line is this: the Ali Forney Center has 200 youths per night on the waiting list for our beds. As an organization, we have no obligation more urgent than to increase our capacity to provide housing to these vulnerable youth. With the support of the Harlem community, those who have contributed and many others offering to help, we approach the February 24th auction with confidence and hope. Given the real estate market in Harlem we anticipate the bidding will go significantly higher than the $1.02M owed and we are in discussion with potential developers and investors to acquire the building and we anticipate having a partner by the time of the auction. We will continue fundraising through the #HarlemNoHate campaign and make every effort to be in as strong a position as possible to acquire the building,” concluded Siciliano.


Update 3:

Video posted by Pastor Manning. 

**Warning extremely offensive hate speech. 

In  a video entitled "Foreclosure Tax Message to My Enemies," Pastor Manning, whose World Missionary Church in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood is going to be sold at a public foreclosure auction next month because of unpaid debts totaling $1.02 million, lashed out at LGBT homeless youth advocates raising funds to procure the building for use as a shelter space and housing. 

So far the Ali Forney Center has raised nearly $130,000 towards their goal of $200,000.

Pastor Manning is notorious for signage at the church with messages such as “Jesus would stone homos” and that all supporters of LGBT people should be cursed with cancer, HIV, madness, and eternal damnation.

[Video: virulently anti-LGBT attack begins right after the 2 minute mark]

Carl Siciliano, Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center, said in response to Manning's statements against the "fags and sodomites" that are trying to take his church, and who won't succeed until they can "carry babies in their testicles and give birth through their anuses" the following:

 "I imagine we are going to hear a lot of ranting and raving from Rev Manning until the auction. And he has good cause to be ranting. The Ali Forney Center has been overwhelmed with support since we announced our bid to site a housing program for LGBT youth,  thus far raising $130K, well over $30K a day, in our quest to win his foreclosed building at auction. I have no interest in birthing babies, only in providing safety for New York City's homeless LGBT youth."


Update 2:

Please watch the HarlemNoHate Video created by Scott Wooledge & Bsheacreative.com                              
**Warning extremely offensive hate speech. 


Update 1:

Nearly 1,500 individuals have come together to turn a place of hate into a place of love raising over $110,000 for the HarlemNoHate Campaign. 


The Ali Forney Center (AFC), the nation's largest and most comprehensive organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth, announces that it is raising funds to attempt to purchase Atlah Church located at 36 W 123rd St, New York, NY 10027, which is being put up for auction due to unpaid bills and tax liens. Atlah Church has been the home of Rev. James Manning, who has notoriously utilized the sign outside the church for a series of incendiary statements inciting hatred and violence against LGBT people.

The Ali Forney Center, which currently houses 107 youths throughout NYC including 24 youths in Harlem, also provides a 24 hour drop-in center a few blocks from Atlah Church, which serves over 1,000 homeless LGBT youths per year, says its youths are victims of the hateful rhetoric of Reverend Manning and others like him.

"The biggest reason our youths are driven from their homes is because of homophobic and transphobic religious beliefs of their parents", said Carl Siciliano, founder and executive director of AFC. "Because of this, it has been horrifying for us to have our youths exposed to Manning's messages inciting hatred and violence against our community. It has meant the world to us that so many Harlem residents have stood up to support our young people, and are now urging us to provide urgently needed care at the site of so much hatred. If we are able to obtain the space it would truly be a triumph of love over hatred."

AFC whose Harlem based programs provide 50,000 meals a year for homeless LGBT youth and offers interventions such as medical and mental health care, case management, educational and career services plants to utilize the Atlah site to provide housing to LGBT youths. AFC also plans to launch a catering business run and operated by its clients.

AFC hopes to raise at least $200K through an initial public fundraising effort, and will seek to leverage those funds to obtain additional support from local government, major donors and foundations. If the Ali Forney Center is not able to obtain the building, it commits to utilize any funds raised to increase its housing and vocational services for homeless LGBT youth in another site.

 Since 2014, local Harlem residents have opposed Rev. Manning's messages of hatred and violence by organizing a series of events to raise funds for the Ali Forney Center, as well as to increase awareness of the needs of homeless LGBT youths. Also they have organized a series of protests outside of Atlah Church. These efforts, under the name of Love Not Hate, have been coordinated by Stacy Parker Le Melle.

“I am ecstatic to imagine a future where our Harlem corner will be a home of compassion, not hatred.  We have a homeless problem in New York City. The de Blasio administration is working hard to remedy this, but LGBT young people are especially vulnerable with the shelter system. They need protection.  The Ali Forney Center is a beacon, but they need more space for transitional housing and job training. I can't imagine a better use for that property.  Who needs more luxury condos?  We need to care for the most vulnerable in our midst.”

Le Melle continued “When the ATLAH story broke on Thursday, immediately I heard from neighbors: wouldn't it be amazing if an LGBT group could acquire the property? What if it were the Ali Forney Center?  We all knew that this would be poetic justice. We need to care for those kicked out of homes, often on religious-based grounds. We need to care for those most vulnerable to ATLAH's hate speech.”

Donations can also be made through Paypal. To do so, enter mramos@aliforneycenter.org as the payee address. Enter "Harlem No Hate" under instructions so that we may track donations on this page. 

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