African-Amer­i­can fam­ily vic­tim of 2nd hate at­tack

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Bruce Fin­ley Bruce Fin­ley: 303-954-1700, bfin­ley@den­ver­post.com or @fin­ley­bruce

A se­cond hate at­tack on an African-Amer­i­can fam­ily in Au­rora drove lead­ers to city hall Wed­nes­day where they vowed an ag­gres­sive in­ves­ti­ga­tion, la­ment­ing that con­tentious pres­i­den­tial elec­tion pol­i­tics are spilling through day-to-day life.

The at­tacks, in­volv­ing spray­painted “KKK” slurs on an apart­ment door and a “watch your back” note, brought the num­ber of bias-re­lated in­ci­dents re­ported to Au­rora Po­lice since the elec­tion to six. Au­rora po­lice said they’ve recorded 25 re­ports of hate crimes since Novem­ber 2015, about two a month, and that the rate has tripled.

It is a re­flec­tion of at­tacks hap­pen­ing na­tion­wide as Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s rise ap­par­ently has un­leashed an­gry sen­ti­ments di­rected at racial, gen­der and other iden­tity groups. The South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter and civil lib­er­ties groups on Wed­nes­day re­peated calls urg­ing Trump to take a more force­ful stand dis­avow­ing at­tacks.

The law cen­ter doc­u­mented 867 hate-crime in­ci­dents na­tion­wide that hap­pened dur­ing the 10 days after the elec­tion, in­clud­ing 21 in Colorado. Of those in­ci­dents, a dozen tar­geted im­mi­grants, three tar­geted African-Amer­i­cans and two tar­geted women. Six hap­pened at schools grades K-12, five at uni­ver­si­ties and one at a gov­ern­ment build­ing in Long­mont.

Au­rora Mayor Steve Ho­gan ex­pressed frus­tra­tion and sad­ness after the lat­est at­tack Tues­day night, the se­cond tar­get­ing a woman and her fam­ily in a south­east­ern Au­rora apart­ment with slurs on her door and threats. No ar­rests have been made.

“We will not al­low anyone to be vic­tim­ized based upon the way they look or what they be­lieve. … This is not Au­rora. It’s not Colorado. It is not the United States of Amer­ica,” Ho­gan said. “It is the kind of thing that has to be ad­dressed. It can­not be ig­nored. It can­not be left alone.”

On Nov. 22, one or more at­tack­ers sprayed “KKK” on the apart­ment door while the woman and her daugh­ter were in­side. Po­lice said a neigh­bor across the hall no­ticed the door had been van­dal­ized. That neigh­bor called po­lice and then no­ti­fied the woman. Po­lice said the note amounted to a threat to hurt the woman and her fam­ily.

Po­lice said they’re still in­ves­ti­gat­ing, work­ing with ev­i­dence and vow­ing to do what­ever is nec­es­sary to pro­tect res­i­dents from bias-re­lated crimes.

Tues­day night, van­dals com­mit­ted a sim­i­lar crime tar­get­ing the woman and her fam­ily with sprayed slurs and a note, po­lice said. The woman was home, po­lice said, adding they don’t know why she has been tar­geted.

Po­lice Chief Nick Metz de­clined to pro­vide de­tails and the woman asked that her name not be re­vealed. Metz urged help from the com­mu­nity. He said any bits of in­for­ma­tion could help make a dif­fer­ence. “There’s some­body out there who knows some­thing,” he said.

“We can all agree this year has been a very con­tentious year in pol­i­tics. That has spilled into what is hap­pen­ing in our com­mu­ni­ties,” Metz said. “We do know there have been other in­ci­dents that have not been re­ported to us.”

Com­mu­nity lead­ers joined po­lice and Ho­gan in Au­rora’s mu­nic­i­pal build­ing. Among them was Christ’s Church Apos­tolic preacher Almer Combs, who said he looks at fol­low­ers dur­ing wor­ship and sees peo­ple who ap­pear “trou­bled” in un­known ter­ri­tory.

“It may be the next four years, we don’t what’s go­ing to hap­pen,” Combs said. “Maybe some pain.”

Na­tion­wide, hate at­tacks have been linked to Trump re­fer­ring to “a new sher­iff in town” and ve­hi­cles and homes have been van­dal­ized.

“Trump should take the lead, the way Ge­orge W. Bush did after 9/11,” said Heidi Beirich, direc­tor of SPLC’s in­tel­li­gence project that tracks hate groups and ex­trem­ists. She re­ferred to the Bush visit to a mosque to quell fears after a break­out of at­tacks on U.S. Mus­lims.

“If Trump wanted to calm the wa­ters, he could do the same thing by com­ing out and force­fully con­demn­ing the vi­o­lence,” Beirich said. “He’s the pres­i­dent-elect, and many of th­ese acts have been done in his name. He should force­fully reject this, reject ha­tred and reject di­vi­sions.”

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