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Police call racial graffiti in Stow a crime of hate

Published: March 2, 1998 12:00 AM

STOW _ City police continued today to investigate who spray-painted ethnic slurs and vulgar words on the garages and cars owned by two families over the weekend.

On Sunday an Asian family who lives in the 5000 block of Celest View Drive and a white family who lives in the 2500 block of Norton Drive discovered the damage, which Stow police say happened sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Police are treating the incident as a hate crime because the racial slurs were aimed at the Asian family. The white family reported only vulgar words spray-painted on their garage and sugar in their car's gas tank.

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Ward 2 Councilman John Parker, who represents the families' neighborhood, said he is outraged.

"I'm sure this is just adolescents, and it makes you wonder just how poor or how bad is their character if they're going to do that," he said, adding this is the first such incident he is aware of.

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"I have never experienced or heard of any difficulty with any of the minorities in Stow," he said. "On behalf of the city, we apologize (to the families)."

All of the spray-painting was done with red paint, according to police, who aren't sure at this time if the two incidents are related.

"At this point we can't tell, but the vulgar words were painted with the same spray-paint and (the houses) are in close proximity," said Det. Jeff Film.

The city has had numerous spray-paint and graffiti incidents in the past few weeks but nothing that would qualify as a hate crime, Film said.

The Asian family also reported having eggs thrown at one of its cars recently, but Film said there isn't any indication that incident was related to their race.

Police aren't speculating if this was a juvenile prank, but Film said the department is investigating that option through its youth department.

"Of course that's always our first impression. Our officers will be talking to kids, and we're hoping to find out who did it that way," he said. "Fifty percent of the time, (juvenile officers) do hear things."

Mayor Donald Coughlin could not be reached for comment about the incidents this morning.

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