Home of black Howard family vandalized

April 25, 1996|By Ed Heard | Ed Heard,SUN STAFF

The townhouse of a black North Laurel family was vandalized, ransacked and flooded Tuesday, two weeks after racist fliers were distributed at the complex calling for whites to "take back what is ours."

Police yesterday called the incident -- which included offensive epithets painted on the walls -- the most destructive hate-bias crime in Howard recently.

The management at the Seasons Apartments in the 9200 block of Traders Crossing relocated the victims -- Sonia James, 27, her 2 1/2 -year-old son and her mother, Mary Alice James -- elsewhere.

"This is terrible," Sonia James said at the wrecked townhouse yesterday afternoon.

"When we moved here two months ago, I never expected anything like this," she said.

Broken dishes covered the floor, "Go You Don't Belong" and "N- - - - - - Get Out" were spray-painted on a wall upstairs, clothes were bleached, furniture was sliced and carpet was soaked.

Similar language was used in racist fliers that were placed on cars and on railings at the townhouse complex April 9.

The notice, littered with misspellings and partly handwritten, purported to be from a group calling itself "Whites Against "N- - - - - -."

It complained that blacks have "so many privelages," drive nicer cars and mess up neighborhoods. "We are not the KKK, but we have some of the same vision," the flier reads.

The rental office sent notices April 10, warning residents about hate-mail distribution in the area.

"I'm disgusted," said Eric Skeeter, community director of the Seasons Apartments. He said he plans to organize a Neighborhood Watch meeting next week.

The acronym on the flier, WAN, is not known by local NAACP leaders and the Anti-Defamation League, but all groups are a concern, said Myrna Shinbaum, an ADL spokeswoman in New York.

Although Howard County prides itself on racial diversity, Jenkins Odoms, president of the Howard County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said at least four complaints of bias are filed with the chapter each week.

"Howard County is not exempt from the rest of the country in racial hate communication," he said.

This year, James Henson, director of Howard County's Office of Human Relations, said his office has heard reports of "Stop the Asian Takeover" graffiti, swastikas painted on high school doors, and two white men dumping snow from a pickup truck in front of a black family's home, warning them to leave.

But "we haven't seen anything close" to Tuesday's crime, said Mr. Henson, who met with the victims yesterday.

His group plans to meet with churches, synagogues and homeowners' groups to discuss how to respond to racist literature.

Police said they believe the latest vandalism targeted the James family specifically, although no threats had been made against them.

Pub Date: 4/25/96

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