The story of a Vancouver couple, Frank and Karen Wastradowski, who had racist graffiti keyed into their car after placing a Barack Obama yard sign in their yard, has drawn a full article from The Columbian.
The graffiti has generated an outcry among several community leaders, who set up a fund this week to defray Wastradowski’s cleanup expenses. Several officials, including Tim Probst, a candidate for representative for the 17th District, have pledged monetary support.
“If someone scratches ‘white power’ on a car, it’s important that we send a message as a whole that our community doesn’t accept racism,” Probst said.
Chris Bassett, the former vice chairman of the Clark County Democratic Party, started the fund after reading media reports on the incident. Outraged, he decided to do something. So he sent e-mails to other political activists, including Probst, seeking contributions.
Bassett said the fund isn’t intended to be a partisan statement (although all those involved are Democrats), but a stance against those who threaten freedom of speech and perpetuate racism.
“Obviously, there is an element in Clark County that feels it’s OK to do these things,” Bassett said. “(The Wastradowskis) were just expressing themselves,” and the vandals were trying to intimidate them into silence. “And that’s very troubling.”
It’s easy to be cynical in this day and age, and I’m probably as cynical as one can get, but the response that has been formulated to this cowardly little bit of vandalism is motivated by a sincere desire to show that normal people don’t find this sort of stuff acceptable. Plus there’s no good reason this couple should bear the financial cost of removing hate graffiti from their sedan for supporting the nominee of a major party, or any candidate for that matter.
I don’t want to invade the Wastradowski’s privacy any more than it has been already, but I’ve heard from several people, including a couple of elected officials, that they are well-respected members of the community. (And let’s remember, before anyone starts claiming that the response to this is motivated only by partisanship, that Frank Wastradowski used to be the campaign treasurer for former state Sen. Don Carlson, R-Vancouver.)
Normal people consider it their Constitutional right to pick and choose whom to support, and they really shouldn’t have to worry about costly repairs to their property for simply putting a placard in their yard.
An account called the “Victims of Racial Vandalism Fund” has been set up at IQ Credit Union in Clark County. You can find their locations here. At this writing we are waiting for the Pay Pal account to go live, and I will update as soon as I receive word it’s working.
UPDATE– Click on the Pay Pal button below if you wish to donate to the “Victims of Racial Vandalism Fund.” Be sure to hit “update total” at Pay Pal if you are paying by credit card (rather than logging in) so that you don’t have to keep re-doing it, like I did. The Pay Pal account’s email address is called “ccagainstvandalism” as I guess it had to be a shorter name.
And I know a lot of folks might be kind of tapped out because it’s an election year (not to mention the tough economy) so rest assured small donations very much matter in this case. It will show how many folks want to register their disgust with this kind of petty and hateful action. Wouldn’t it be great if 50 or 100 people threw in five or ten bucks?
Our plan at this point is any funds that might be raised in excess of that needed to help get the Wastradowski’s on the road without a racism-mobile will be kept in the fund until after the election and then donated to a charity agreed to by the Wastradowski’s. This is an ad-hoc group, so it’s not like we’re having board meetings or anything.
Here’s the Pay Pal button: