WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — The door to Loretta Walton’s Wyoming apartment has been cleaned. The first four letters of the N-word and the word ‘move’ are now gone.
Walton, 66, discovered the words written in marker on her door when she came home from church Sunday afternoon.
“It was so devastating. It was just like everything fell out of me, and I dropped my purse, my Bible,” Walton told 24 Hour News 8. “It just took everything out of me yesterday. I haven’t hardly slept last night. It’s just hard.”
If you live on Grand Rapids’ south side, there’s a good chance you know Walton. She’s the kind of resident who puts her heart and soul into the community.
For years, Walton and her late husband volunteered with the neighborhood association. Photo albums with pictures of community gatherings, magazine articles on her work and an award signed by Grand Rapids Police Chief Kevin Belk on her apartment wall are quiet reminders of her accomplishments.
She has seen much good and bad over the years.
“My job has always been to help people in situations. Didn’t matter who they were or where they was. That was my job in the community,” she said.
But she didn’t expect overt racism in her new home — an apartment at Aurora Pond Independent Senior Living Community off Byron Center Avenue north of 56th Street SW.
“I don’t hate them (the person who wrote on the door) for it. I just dislike what they did,” says Walton. “If I hated them, that’s a burden I’d have to carry on my shoulders. I don’t think they’re wide enough for that.”
Walton thinks a fellow resident may be responsible for writing the slur.
“Most of the people are older,” she said. “They still carry those feelings.”
A spokesman for Oregon-based Holiday Retirement, which owns Aurora Pond, says the company is cooperating with the Wyoming Police Department’s investigation. Spokesman Brian Fawkes said that if an employee is responsible, they will be fired. If it was a resident, they could be evicted.
He says the company will consider another suggestion from Walton:
“Bring this retirement community together and say, ‘We have a problem.’ ‘Cause there’s no use sweeping it under the rug,” Walton said.
Wyoming police don’t yet have suspects. They hoping someone at the complex saw something.
Anyone who has information is asked to call Wyoming police at 616.530.7300 or Silent Observer at 1.866.774.2345.