A Memphis, Tennessee gay center has been targeted for vandalism a second time.

Last week, two men attempted to destroy the rainbow flag that flies outside the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC).

Plain clothed police officers witnessed the pair as they attempted to set fire to the rope that runs the flag pole of the center. A scuffle broke out when the police approached the men, who managed to escape. Officers received minor cuts and scrapes from the altercation.

One man, Ross Burton, 23, was collared by police about an hour later and charged with aggravated assault and vandalism under $500. The second suspect remains at large.

The center received national attention when one of its five billboards promoting National Coming Out Day, the October 11 event during which gay men and lesbians are encouraged to come out to a friend, family member or co-worker, was destroyed. The billboard featured openly gay former Marine Tim Smith with the caption “I'm gay and I protected your freedom.”

“I'm not sure what's going on,” Will Batts, executive director of MGLCC, answered when asked if there was any correlation between the two incidents.

“My guess is that when we increase our visibility and activity in the community, it brings to the surface some of the intolerance that lingers,” he said.

A rally held at the First Congregational Church, just blocks from the center, after the destruction of the billboard drew hundreds to hear what Smith had to say.

“My career came to an end in the Marine Corps because of a prejudice and a hateful and unnecessary policy colliding with a hateful act on the part of a minister. I think it's very important for us in the community to understand that our enemy is not people that are straight, our enemy is not people who are necessarily conservative, our enemy is not necessarily the church. Our enemy is ignorance. Our enemy is misunderstanding,” he told a cheering crowd.

No one has been charged with the destruction of the billboard, which was replaced a week later.

For the vandals, the crime apparently backfired. Instead of inciting hate, it united Memphis' gay and lesbian community and increased the profile of the center.

“[The incident] gave our community a definite focus,” Batts said. And financial contributions to the center have also increased, he added.