By Mike Emery and Bill Engle, IndyStar
RICHMOND, Ind. (Feb. 24, 2015)– A burning vehicle in the Tuesday morning darkness illuminated a racist message in red paint on the Richmond home of a minority family, according to our partners at the IndyStar.
Richmond Police Department and Richmond Fire Department were dispatched shortly after 5 a.m. Tuesday to Sandbridge Drive after receiving a report of a burning vehicle.
When they arrived at the scene, officials found a vehicle burning in the home’s driveway and a racist message, which included “Move n—-r,” spray-painted across the house’s garage door. A second piece of graffiti on a separate door attributed the act to a hate group.
RFD Assistant Chief Tim Brown said the department is investigating the incident. Late Tuesday afternoon, RFD Chief of Fire Prevention Mike Davis said more information would be available Wednesday.
RPD, meanwhile, deferred the case to the Indiana State Police. RPD Chief Kris Wolski said his department contacted ISP because of its expertise in crimes possibly motivated by race. Wolski also noted any evidence collected from the burned vehicle would be sent to ISP labs for processing.
Sgt. John Bowling, public information officer for ISP’s Pendleton District, acknowledged ISP was contacted late Tuesday morning by RPD requesting assistance and that there is an open ISP investigation into a reported vehicle arson. ISP has assigned one detective to the investigation.
Bowling would not provide further details about the incident.
“The Indiana State Police does not routinely discuss specific facts of ongoing investigations unless there is a threat to public safety,” he said. “At this time, it would appear this is an isolated act and does not pose a threat to public safety.”
Leaders in Richmond’s African-American community were shocked by the incident.
“It scares me,” Richmond Common Councilwoman Kelley Cruse-Nicholson said. “I’m angry. I’m confused. And I’m saddened. I can’t believe we are dealing with something like this in my hometown, in the town that I love.
“It’s a horrible, horrible thing, a blatant hate crime. I like to think our city is better than that,” she said.
Larry Owens is president of the Richmond/Wayne County NAACP. He declined to comment until he could gather information about the incident, except to say: “I know there is racism in this town and in this county. I can’t believe this happens in a town under our All American City sign.”