2008-08-27 Grand Rapids Press & Muskegon Chronicle "Police add patrols in wake of racial slur"

Police add patrols in wake of racial slur

by The Grand Rapids Press

PARK TOWNSHIP -- Police have added patrols after a spray-painted racial slur turned up on a black family's driveway last week -- one of a dozen acts of vandalism in the area north of Holland.

Plainclothes detectives have worked the area, talking to residents, but have been unable to identify suspects.

That could change next week, when students return to the school and talk starts. Police believe several people were involved in the crimes, which included damage to residents' property and at Winstrom Park near 160th Avenue and Perry Street.

"We've probably gotten a dozen incidents altogether," Ottawa County sheriff's Lt. Mark Bennett said Tuesday.

The racial slur and a caricature painted on Avelock Robinson's driveway is a big concern, Bennett said.

The Robinsons, originally from Jamaica, found a racial slur written in foot-high block letters on their driveway. Neighbors found indecipherable writings on their driveways.

If suspects are identified, prosecutors will determine whether charges of ethnic intimidation or property destruction are warranted, based on the intent of the perpetrators, Bennett said.

Bennett said investigators continue to work the cases, given the extensive damage in the area and nature of graffiti left at the Robinsons' home.

But, so far, "we really haven't received significant information."

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's department tip line at 738-4687 or Silent Observer at 392-4443.

The township has offered a $150 reward for information about the park vandalism.