Over the weekend we’ve been following a story here in Clark County about a local couple who appear to be the target of racist vandalism simply because they dared to put a Barack Obama yard sign in front of their home. The Columbian ran a small item on Friday night:
Someone scratched the words “White Power” on a car belonging to a Vancouver family who recently posted an “Elect Obama” sign in their front yard.
On Sunday, Frank Wastradowski, who lives northeast of Southwest Washington Medical Center, noticed the vandalism on the side of his wife’s 1993 Plymouth. The letters, likely scratched with a key, were about 8 inches tall.
“It’s a hate crime and it’s time we get past racism,” he said.
Wastradowski said he won’t take the sign down, adding, “That’s my freedom of speech.”
Now KPTV-12 in Portland has a story up about the incident, and we learn that the words “I’m gay” were also scratched into the car. Since the KPTV story features Karen Wastradowski, Frank’s wife, one can only conclude that the vandals were quite intent on displaying their vast stupidity for the world to see.
There are a couple of things worth noting here. Yes, Clark County has its share of unrepentant bigots. Earlier this year the son of a Battle Ground city council member was charged with cyberstalking over virulently racist emails sent to a black council member and other community members. So while vandalism is not exactly an unusual thing during the summer months, it’s also not acceptable to just shrug off racist defacement of private property as “just kids being kids.” They learned it somewhere.
A small ad-hoc group of us here is working on setting up a donation fund for the Wastradowski’s so they don’t have to drive around in a car that says “White Power” on it. My fellow blogger Aneurin at Politics is a Blood Sport has been following the story here and here. Aneurin has talked to Frank Wastradowski, and unsurprisingly the couple did not have full coverage on the car (nothing against 1993 sedans, of course.) We’re working on some details about how to set the fund up and to do it in a way that will aid the Wastradowskis rather than just make a partisan statement.
In a larger sense, if someone can’t place a yard sign for a major party candidate in front of their home without this sort of thing happening, we don’t really have much of a democracy. At this point we are hoping some local Republicans will also come forward and denounce this attack and perhaps throw in a small donation as well.
As things progress I’ll keep HA readers up to date. It might be easy to ignore a relatively small and stupid act of vandalism, but the Wastradowski’s need to know that the community won’t tolerate this sort of thing and will take positive actions to counteract it.
And one other thing, which is in the “gee, that’s kind of curious” file, is that Frank Wastradowski used to be the campaign treasurer for former state Senator Don Carlson, R-Vancouver. There’s no way to know if the vandals knew that, unless someone is caught, but it’s still pretty ironic.