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Police investigate ‘vile’ graffiti in East Mt. Airy as possible hate crime

Josephine Nelson’s heart sank as she backed out of her East Mt. Airy garage Thursday morning.

As her white automatic door kissed the ground, Nelson laid eyes on a collection of “vile” purple spray-painted graffiti, including a penis and a pair of swastikas.

“We’ve lived here a long time, and to think that someone has this much hatred and contempt for their neighbors, it’s disconcerting,” said a teary-eyed Nelson inside her East Durham Street home.

What’s more, said Nelson, it’s completely out of character for one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods.

“I’ve lived up here all my life and you see graffiti,” she said, “but I’ve never seen the vile nonsense that’s in the back.”

Multiple properties

Five other garages on and near Nelson’s block, including one belonging to a nearby church, were also marred by lewd and offensive graffiti.

On Friday morning, Roger Fitzgerald drove down Nelson’s alleyway to scope out the damage. His garage two blocks away was hit, but a decidedly less offensive message was left behind.

“Something like: ‘If love is all you need then I’m the only one you need,'” said Fitzgerald.

Still, he was still outraged.

The longtime resident had recently spent $15,000 renovating his garage. The door alone was $1,600.

If there’s any silver lining, though, he said it’s that no one was physically hurt by the graffiti.

“We can fix it and that’s what we’ll do,” said Fitzgerald.

Police on the case

As of Friday morning, four homeowners had called the cops. The garages were allegedly spray-painted early Thursday morning, according to police.

Detectives are actively working the case, but no arrests have been made. It’s being investigated as a hate crime.

Nelson, for her part, doesn’t care much about someone being sent to jail.

“Acknowledge that you did it, find someway to get it off and say you’re sorry. That’s all,” she said.

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