On Wednesday, the community of Wilmington, Delaware was startled to wake up and find that the hate from Charlottesville, Virginia had trickled into their quiet town. A resident's car was covered with racist graffiti, including the letters "KKK," a swastika, racial slurs, and the words "Go back to Africa."
"I didn't think they do that in Delaware," Jamar Jackson, whose brother owns the vehicle, told The News Journal. "Now I know they're everywhere. ... It made my grandmom feel unsafe." His uncle, Rodney Jackson, told WDEL that he thinks the attack was over a parking space, but because of "the nature of the graffiti" police are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
Unlike some leader's response to Charlottesville, those governing Wilmington and Delaware have swiftly spoken up to condemn the racism behind this incident and place responsibility where responsibility is due.
"This behavior is contemptible," said Mayor Mike Purzycki in a statement. "We have no tolerance for this and will take all steps to find and prosecute the perpetrator.”
"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," said City Council in another statement. "We must reject these actions of hate in no uncertain terms; find those responsible and hold them accountable; and stand united against hate."
"This expression of racism and hate is disgusting," Gov. John Carney wrote in a Facebook post. He also posted the numbers to call if a concerned citizen knows anything about the vandalism.
For the moment, the vehicle is covered from public eyes with a tarp, and the site is a realization to some of the townspeople that racism is so much a structural part of America as to be inescapable. Racism doesn't just exist in far away cities and communities; it's here, in Wilmington, just as it is in every other American town.
Bobby McCormick, who lives across the street from the person whose car was vandalized, told reporters that the entire thing "puzzled" him. "We never had a problem like that around here," he explained. "It's something you see on the TV, not right outside your door. We don't want that around here. We don't need that."
In contrast, though the incident may be shocking, McCormick's neighbor Antony Valentine, who came to the mainland United States from Puerto Rico, told The News Journal that it is "nothing new."
"You see it everywhere," he said. "It's hate."
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters photographer Peter Eisler