RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Police are investigating vandalism at Bryan Park after racist slurs and symbols were spray-painted on signs and structures sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning.
Officers were called to the park Saturday to conduct their investigation. Police are asking for the public for information that will lead to those responsible for the racist graffiti.
The Department of Public Works was called to clean up the park Saturday afternoon and the symbols and slurs have since been covered up.
“The Richmond Police Department takes vandalism very seriously,” said James Mercante, a spokesman with the department. “If the damage is over $1,000, the person responsible could be charged with a felony.”
On Saturday, anger, frustration, and pain filled Lakeside residents. Parents who spoke with 8News said they weren’t happy their kids had to see the hateful words and images.
One woman who walks Bryan Park twice a week told 8News, seeing the offensive slurs and symbols worries her.
“The swastika and the ‘N’-word posted places…that’s hurtful,” said Jessica Jenkins. “It’s hurtful to me because you want to be accepted and feel comfortable where you live and you don’t feel comfortable when you see things like that cause you know people are here that feel that way.”
Jenkins recently moved into the area and said it makes her feel uncomfortable to know that people are okay with using hate words like it’s everyday language.
“There’s no need for that type of message anywhere, that’s just not needed. There’s no good that comes from that,” Jenkins said.
Richmond Parks and Recreation worked to cover the racist graffiti.
After seeing the swastikas and derogatory language tagged at Bryan Park, Toby Clem wanted to do something positive with his skills and equipment.
On Saturday morning ‘ErasinghateRVA‘ was working to put together a task force to erase hate in Richmond.
“I think it was just some stupid teenagers, but I don’t care,” Clem said. “There are lots of kids that show up there, there are all people of all walks of life and it just needs to go.”
Clem owns 2700 Services, a cleaning company and works around Richmond removing racist graffiti after being inspired by a group who does similar work in Canada.
Clem told 8News why he wanted to bring this campaign to Richmond.
“In a time when our country is so divided,” Clem said. “I think we can all agree that no matter where your opinions lie, there is no room for hate.”
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 780-1000, or they may visit www.7801000.com. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones may also be used. All Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.