An incident over the weekend alarmed members of an immigrant community in Anchorage. However, officials are stopping short of labeling it a hate crime.
On Sunday morning a vehicle outside a multi-family home was found with deflated tires and covered with hateful messages written in washable orange marker.
Debby Bock is a friend of the five men who live together in the building, all of whom are refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan. Bock came over Sunday, and was shocked by what she saw.
“There was writing on every single window and every single side of both of the cars,” Bock said. “Things that said, ‘Not welcome,’ ‘Go home,’ ‘Take a hike,’ ‘Leave Alaska,’ ‘Go away.'”
The men called the Anchorage Police Department to file a report. But both they and Bock were surprised that the Department is treating the incident as a vandalism case, and could not spare an officer to respond in person.
“I called the police again,” Bock said, “and the dispatcher told me that they had taken a report over the phone, but no one was going to come out, and no one was going to take pictures.”
Community members in Spenard, where the incident took place, have made efforts in the last day to show support with men living at the residence targeted. But the men feel unsafe after what happened, according to Bock, and some are wondering if the assault on property constitutes a hate crime.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which monitors hate crimes, has not seen evidence that would involve the organization in the case.
“At this time the FBI is not investigating this as a hate crime. We are not a part of the investigation,” said Staci Feger-Pellessier, a communications specialist with the Bureau’s Anchorage division.
No comment was available from the Public Affairs office at the Anchorage Police Department, which was closed in observation of Seward’s Day.