African-American family victim of 2nd hate attack
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.”