Police treat vandalism as hate crimeTop Highlights, Around the Nation Thursday, July 5th, 2012
ARLINGTON, Texas – A group of teens who police believe targeted gays and others by spray-painting slurs and vulgar messages on vehicles and homes this month, have been identified, thanks to home surveillance cameras that caught them in the act, authorities said last week.
The Star-Telegram reported that an 18-year-old Fort Worth man has been arrested in connection with the June 10 case, which involved at least 13 criminal-mischief incidents in an Arlington neighborhood. The Arlington Police Dept. (APD) is treating the case as a hate crime.
Four other teens, who range from 16 to 18 years old, are expected to surrender to authorities.
One of the properties targeted was the home of a family headed by a same-sex couple. The back of the couple’s car included a sticker of two moms, a child and a dog. The suspects spray-painted “faggot” and “queers” in large letters over the back of the vehicle.
It is the correlation between the bumper sticker and the anti-LGBT slurs that police say indicates a hate crime. Texas law prohibits hate crimes based on sexual orientation but not gender identity. It includes property crimes as well as violent crimes.
Praising the APD, HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement, “It’s commendable that the Arlington PD responded to this crime so quickly and thoroughly, and that they are not turning a blind eye to the anti-LGB factors involved – in fact quite the opposite. This is a shining example of law enforcement officials doing the right thing, and working diligently to ensure all members of the community they serve feel safe and protected.”
Kim Lovering, who had the rear window of her 2010 Subaru spray-painted with the anti-gay words, said that she wasn’t surprised that the vandalism was the work of teens. “I believe it was a hate crime,” Lovering said. “They came through the neighborhood on a mission.”
But Lovering said the police and residents have reached out in support.
“They’ve made the effort to make it feel safe,” Lovering said. “It’s been quite a response.”
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