2008-08-19 Holland Sentinel "Racial Slur Painted on Park Township Driveway"

Racial slur painted on Park Township driveway
The Holland Sentinel

Sixteen-year-old Derce Robinson was leaving for a morning bicycle ride on Monday, Aug. 18, when he saw a slur used against blacks painted over his parents' driveway.

His mother was still asleep, but he woke her up to tell her: "Mommy, something terrible happened."

When Derce's mother, Darla, took a look, she was shocked - and wondered how to answer her children's questions about the graffiti.

"My oldest daughter asked me, "Are they going to kill us?'" she said. "I said, "No, honey, that's just someone being very naughty."

The Robinsons, who are black, were one of several residents along North Bristol Street in Park Township who awoke Monday morning to find damage to their property.

Lt. Mark Bennett of the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office said the department received at least a half dozen calls from other homeowners on North Bristol Street who reported broken windows and graffiti on their property.

No suspects have been found, he said.

Darla Robinson said that she never had any knowledge that her family - which includes her husband, Avelock, and another daughter - was disliked by anyone.

"We've never had anything like this happen," she said. "We have been very much accepted. We have very good friends here."

The Robinsons moved to Holland from Jamaica two years ago when Avelock's employer, Consumers Energy, transferred him here, Darla said.

She said police told her the graffiti appeared to be a hate crime and that they should take precautions to secure their home and belongings.

Bennett said it was too early to determine whether the suspects would face charges for committing a hate crime for the damage at the Robinsons' home.

"There's more to committing a hate crime than just destruction of property, but it could develop into that based on what the intent (of the graffiti) was," Bennett said. "But there's no doubt that it was a serious destruction of property."

Marvin Younger, president of the Alliance for Cultural and Ethnic Harmony, called the graffiti a "scar on our community."
He said ignorance is often to blame when minorities are targeted by vandalism.