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'This is a hate crime': Community rallies around victim of racist graffiti in Parkland

Parkland residents are reaching out to offer help to the victim of a hate crime, including deputies who attempted to clean the graffiti off their garage.

PARKLAND, Wash. — As the community comes together to support a Parkland resident who was the victim of racist graffiti, county officials are calling the act a hate crime. 

Pierce County deputies received a call for vandalism on 117th Street in Parkland on Wednesday morning and arrived to find the N-word and a demand to move out emblazoned on the garage door of the home of 65-year-old Velinda Williams.

When news of the incident spread, Pierce County councilmembers Marty Campbell and Jani Hitchen called on Pierce County Sheriff's Office to investigate the incident as a hate crime.

“As soon as I heard about it, I reached out and spoke to her, and clearly she’s shaken,” Campbell said. “And rightfully so. This is a hate crime and needs to be addressed as such.”

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In the meantime, deputies came out to offer what help they could. After attempting to wash the spray paint off, a tarp was set up to cover the offensive message.

“We know how much she’s going to suffer, just knowing someone did that to her,” said Sgt. Daren Moss, public information officer for the Pierce County Sheriff's Office.

Community organizations have also reached out to help undo the damage.

This Saturday, a group that includes the Tacoma Mutual Aid Collective and volunteers will join the Pierce County deputies to repaint Williams’ garage door.

Hitchen, who lives in Parkland, said this is how community should be.

“I know the community is going to pull together for her and make it right so she doesn’t have to look at it, and my hope is that that will help her heal a little bit,” Hitchen said

Meanwhile, deputies said Thursday they want to make one thing clear to people across Pierce County.

“We’re going to send a message to the community that we’re going to be on your side and we’re not going to let this behavior stand,” Moss said.

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