Support pours in for targets of racial graffiti North Laurel family gets donations, encouragement

April 26, 1996|By Ed Heard | Ed Heard,SUN STAFF

Just two days after vandals wrecked a North Laurel black family's townhouse and sprayed racial slurs on the wall telling the trio to leave, outraged neighbors, police officers and others have donated hundreds of items to encourage them to stay.

Everything from children's toys, detergent and furniture to clothes and law school study notes have been offered or donated at the rental office of the Seasons Apartments, said Laura Hoppenstein, assistant community director.

More than 100 calls came from Howard County, Baltimore, Prince George's County, Washington and even from former residents of the development, she said.

One of the victims, law student Sonia James, 27, was short on words yesterday for the well-wishing strangers who shook her hand and gave words of encouragement.

"This lets you know there are a lot of good people out there," said Ms. James, who has lived in the community with her mother, Mary Alice James, and 2 1/2 -year-old son for about two months.

Residents, police and managers of the complex will discuss the recent hate-bias incident during a Neighborhood Crime Watch meeting at the Seasons Apartments clubhouse at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

"I hate it," said one African-American woman, who refused to give her name out of fear of retaliation. "But I'm standing my ground like Rosa Parks."

Her husband, who was with her near a neighborhood playground, said, "I moved from D.C. to get away from gunfire, now it's hatred here. You can't live anywhere."

The racial graffiti occurred two weeks after fliers purporting to be from a white supremacist group were placed on windshields of cars parked at the development. Other residents said yesterday they had found different fliers a week before that sought members for a white supremacist group.

Howard County police said yesterday they had no suspects in the vandalism and didn't know whether a group was involved.

Although Ms. James and her family have been relocated to another residence in the large apartment and townhouse development, she said they may move from the neighborhood sooner than they had planned.

They were planning to move in December, when Ms. James expects to graduate, but she was reconsidering the move because she liked the area.

That changed Tuesday, when vandals cut her front window screen between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., entered and spray-painted "You Don't Belong" and racial slurs on the walls. The vandals also cut furniture, broke dishes, poured bleach and paint over all clothes, spray-painted family photos and flooded the home. A stereo, VCR, video camera and jewelry were taken.

Yesterday, detectives were sifting through evidence collected at the scene, but Sgt. Steven Keller, a police spokesman, would not discuss what was found.

Ms. James said police returned some property to her yesterday. and said they told her the intruders must have been wearing gloves because officers found no prints.

Pub Date: 4/26/96

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