Racial slurs on window prompt hate crime investigation

Racial slurs found written on a door of an apartment in Grand Rapids. Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime. (July 22, 2015)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids police are investigating a hate crime after a woman said she came home to find racial slurs written on her apartment window.

Camille Jackson discovered the slurs Tuesday night when she arrived home to Lexon Apartments on S. Division Avenue south of Cherry Street. She said she has no idea who would target her or why.

“Coming home to that, we didn’t feel safe,” Jackson told 24 Hour News 8 on Wednesday. “I couldn’t really sleep last night because I didn’t know if this person who did this was coming back or anything. We don’t know.”

When she got home after being out of town over the weekend, Jackson said, she first noticed graffiti on her mailbox.

“It said, ‘Dirty rats live here.’ And I’m like, OK, why is that on my mailbox? Are there rats in the building or is somebody just writing on my mailbox?” she said.

Then she went upstairs to her apartment to find more messages on her window, including the words “white power” and racial slurs.

“It’s not just writing some stuff, ” she said. “Words hurt people. And to be black and to be called a n***** and c*** and all these racist words, it hurts us.”

She also found her power was turned off and the food in her refrigerator was spoiled. She said it’s the second time her power has been shut off without reason.

“We just want to feel comfortable in our own home,” Jackson said.

“The incident is under active investigation,” Grand Rapids Police Department Sgt. Terry Dixon said.

Police say they have been to the apartment complex for other calls and are investigating whether any of them are linked. They have not have other hate crimes recently reported in the area.

Dixon said he didn’t have a specific statistic on how often hate crimes are solved, but that it’s a lot more likely when police get help from citizens.

An ethnic intimidation charge has a maximum penalty of up to two years and or a $5,000 fine.

The Grand Rapids Community Relations Commission released the following statement on Friday:

“Hate speech and bias incidents not only affected the families and individuals involved, but affects the community as a whole.  Every individual has a right to feel safe in their own home without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, marital status, disability, source of lawful income or gender orientation.  Acts such as these reported to the Grand Rapids Police Department have the effect of threatening that security.  We as a commission seek to eliminate the occurrence of hate crimes and bias incidents and to identify how we as a community can discourage and eliminate these cowardly behavior and eliminate their have negative consequences in our community.  We encourage citizens in Grand Rapids to seize this opportunity to lead by example to embrace the diversity and inclusion in our city.”

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