Hateful graffiti mars Arlington neighborhoods
August 27, 2008 · Updated 4:29 PM
ARLINGTON Hateful graffiti has once again made its mark on Arlington, as the Arlington Police Department responded to 14 separate reports of graffiti that had been spray-painted on houses and vehicles throughout the city on the morning of April 8.
The graffiti included swastikas, anti-religious messages and obscene language and illustrations, and while investigators believe that they were spray-painted between the hours of 2-8 a.m., owners of the vandalized homes and vehicles were still working to repair the damage done well into the afternoon hours.
On the 4600 block of 200th Street, the graffiti on the home owned by Sharil Kallstrom was discovered by its residents, the Hardy family, shortly after brothers Nathan, 15, Jacob, 13, and Kaleb, 10, left for school that morning.
It makes me mad that people would do something like that, said Jacob Hardy, who joined his brothers, Kallstrom and their neighbors that afternoon in scrubbing the garage doors that had been defaced with a swastika and other designs.
It made me angry, but I knew it could come off, or be replaced, said Nathan Hardy, before he went to work on the garage doors with a rag, a toothbrush and a can of paint thinner. It irritated me more than it worried me. Still, as soon as I saw the swastika, I knew we had to call the cops, because it was a hate crime.
Sarah Cofer, Respect program coordinator for the Arlington School District, was called by Patty Donaldson, a mutual friend of Cofer and Kallstrom, as well as a neighbor of Kallstrom and a kindergarten teacher at Presidents Elementary.
Im extremely disappointed, Cofer said, as she soaked her own rag with more paint thinner. Weve worked so hard to educate these kids. Whatever we cant finish today, weve offered to bring more kids back to work on tomorrow, because there are a lot of kids who want to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.
Because of the graffiti, Donaldson now feels less safe in her neighborhood.
It scared me and my 11-year-old daughter both, when we saw it this morning, Donaldson said, as she sought to clean off the stubborn spray-paint. This isnt Arlington. The attitudes behind this worry me.
As for Kallstrom herself, having her property vandalized was not nearly as upsetting to her as having to give up the hours needed to fix it.
I work and go to school full-time, Kallstrom said. I need to be spending this time studying, not scrubbing graffiti off garage doors.
At the same time, on the 20100 block of 46th Avenue NE, Antero Rocha had just finished repainting the side of his house, after trying for more than an hour to remove the graffiti through other means, to no avail.
I wanted to take it off, but I couldnt scrape it or sand it off, because that would only make it worse, Rocha said. Its terrible that somebody would do this, and I wasnt expecting it to happen, but what can you say? It was probably done by juveniles or teenagers, wholl get a slap on the wrist.
Just down the street, on the 20300 block, Cheryl Seat couldnt even begin to fix the damage that had been done to her property. She and her husband own an RV that their next-door neighbor, Virginia Lewis, lets them park in her driveway, and both Lewis and Seat were treated to a rude awakening April 8.
I looked out my window and saw black spray-paint all over their motor-home, said Lewis, a resident of the neighborhood for the past four years. Nothing like this has ever happened since Ive lived here. Im kind of frightened. If people like this are out in the early morning, who knows if theyll start breaking in our windows next? There used to be cars that drove security patrols on these streets. We need them to do that again.
Even as she examined the corrosion that the spray-paint had caused on the fiberglass sides of her RV, Seat expressed sorrow for the vandals.
I feel sorry for them, that they have nothing better to do than this, Seat said, as she considered how to cover up the graffiti. We can fix it. Thats not the point. I pray theyll receive help for what theyve done.
Arlington police are still seeking any information that could lead to the person or people responsible for these crimes, and request that citizens with such information contact them at 360-403-3400.