Wilmington police investigate racist graffiti as hate crime; arrest made in similar Chesco incident [video]

    Two cars covered in racist graffiti, one in Coatesville and one in Wilmington, are being investigated separately as hate crimes.

    A car cover now hides the racist and anti-Semitic graffiti spray painted on a parked car in Wilmington.

    Two Wilmington police officers returned to the 600 block of Bayard Avenue this morning. They were working with the car’s owner, by phone, to have the blue Chrysler Pacifica removed. 

    Police spokesman Master Sgt. Shane Sowden said the incident is being investigated as a hate crime. Since no other cars in the area were damaged, Sowden said it appears to be an isolated incident. 

    Meanwhile neighbors in the quiet, tight-knit, predominantly Black neighborhood are still in shock. Bobby McCormick has lived on the street for 10 years and said nothing like this has ever happened before. 

    “It’s gruesome, it’s something I wouldn’t want my kids to see or experience that,” McCormick said. “The way they did that car, somebody brazen because anybody could’ve walked out their door and seen them.”

    Jasmine Lilly has lived on the block for about a year. She said it’s one thing to see this type of thing on television, but surreal for this type of racism and hate to happen right outside her front door.

    “You wouldn’t think in 2017 something like that is going to be happening, especially right across the street from you.”

    Police don’t have any suspects yet and that has Lilly on edge. She’s now second-guessing whether to let her daughter play outside or even take a walk past dark. 

    “Given what was written on the car it’s like, makes me kinda nervous you know. I really didn’t think that there were people out there like really, really like that, so it was kind of heartbreaking.”

    Delaware Governor John Carney posted this message on his Facebook page today: 

    “This expression of racism and hate is disgusting. I am so disturbed and upset to see this happen in my home state, and the city I’ve lived in for 30 years. We all need to stand up for our neighbors and refuse to tolerate this kind of intimidation.”

    State Rep. Helene Keeley and New Castle County Councilman Jea Street also condemned the hate speech in a joint statement released this morning. The vandalism occurred in their respective districts. 

    “We are beyond sickened by this blatant act of racism and hate speech. It has no place in society and should be called out. As elected officials, we stand united against all forms of bigotry and hate.”

    The statement continued:

    “While we wish we could say we are shocked by these actions, the events of the past two weeks have reminded everyone that there still is a lot of hatred and bigotry in our country, and even right here in our community. And when there isn’t an unequivocal, forceful condemnation from our leaders and society in general, it only encourages and emboldens those who express these views. We cannot allow actions like this racist vandalism to become normalized.”

    The graffiti incident in Wilmington comes almost two weeks after a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia where one woman was killed and 19 were injured.

    Wilmington City Council issued their own statement as well:

    “Wednesday’s cowardly act of racism and intolerance, which we have seen most recently in cities like Charlottesville, does not reflect who we are as Wilmingtonians or Americans,” a statement from Wilmington City Council read. “One of Wilmington’s most treasured and valued assets is the diversity of our residents and the various cultures and backgrounds that are woven into the fabric of our city. We must reject these actions of hate in no uncertain terms; find those responsible and hold them accountable; and stand united against hate.”

    Wilmington police are asking anyone with information about the vandalism to contact Det. Brandon Mosely at 302-576-3646. Additionally, anyone with information can also contact Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333 or via email at www.delawarecrimestoppers.org.

    Separate, similar incident 

    About 30 miles away in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, Janine Humphrey came home after working the graveyard shift at the Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center to find her car tagged with racist graffiti. 

    “I saw a Nazi sign on the top of the vehicle as I drove by, and in my mirror I could see the N-word written across the hood of the vehicle,” said Humphrey, who’s black. 

    The hardest part for her, though, was trying to explain what happened to her kids, she said. 

    “I really just said that that’s their problem, their illness, that there’s nothing wrong with you, that your skin is beautiful, and you’re intelligent, and you’re smart, and you’re fully capable of doing anything that it is that you want to do and you know that this person was really just a sick person,” Humphrey said. “I don’t know if they really got it, you know, really understood it, but I do know today that they were kinda down. I mean like the whole vibe of my household right now is down.”

    Humphrey said a convenience store and a garage door about a block-and-a-half away were also vandalized.

    Coatesville is about half African-American, but surrounding Chester County is about 90 percent white.

    Coatesville Police arrested George Rissel in connection with the incident. Authorities said the 24-year-old has ties to white supremacist groups.

    The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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