It is not often that cowardly racism rears its ugly head in northern Door County. It is even more rare to apprehend the perpetrators of such disgusting actions.
But such an incident has just occurred here. I am speaking of the disgusting hate crime, racial graffiti, recently bestowed by a young couple and their pink spray paint on our beautiful Door Bluff Niagara Escarpment in Door Bluff Headlands Park.
As with all good stories, this one had a hero. A lover of Door County, who was paying attention and documented the damage, called the Door County Sheriff’s Department and took the time to make the report on the perpetrators. Not that it made any difference! Because, within a few weeks of this happening, the incident went to court – minus the perpetrators, a tiny fine was handed down with no mention made of hate crimes, and, just like that, it was swept under the rug.
The hero spent more time on the incident than the perps, who were not charged in any meaningful way. The offending paint job in pink included the N-word, and is already gone, because the Door County Airport and Parks Department (although they had taken no action in reporting the crime) did that right away, as if it hadn’t happened at all.
Our hero (not a local) took photos and then called the Sheriff’s Department, and a deputy came on the scene and spoke to the perpetrators, who immediately lied and said they just spray-painted their initials and a heart on a tree, which apparently wasn’t grounds for anything. The deputy let them go (adults, not kids, remember, and all part of the deputy’s report). After the sheriff reviewed the photos sent by our hero, the deputy had to call the out-of-town offender back. The perp admitted to painting the racial slur and assured the deputy that this time, he was being “100 percent truthful.” With this additional info the deputy had to write him up and send the case to court. The case went before Judge Ehlers on August 29th at 9 am (no perps required to attend) and a meager $200 fine was given with no mention made of a hate crime, which racial graffiti is considered to be. The fine was no different than if the perp had written “America” on our sacred Door Bluff escarpment.
Many outraged residents have been trying to find out more about this case, only to find it was too late to join the proceedings. Since the perpetrator’s name is in the deputy’s report, a quick check of the perp’s twitter account shows more blatant racism and sexism, which he hasn’t even bothered to remove, since he wasn’t even charged on the racist action by the sheriff or the court.
To her credit, Samantha Hernandez of the Door County Advocate wrote up the incident, the Pulse was silent.
Where is the outrage? Has the Trump campaign anesthetized us to this type of racism? What does this say about us, Door County? Do we take a stand and cry foul? Or do we condone racism by our inaction?
Gills Rock, Wis.