Police investigate racist graffiti near Floyd Dryden Middle School as a hate crime

A wet boardwalk in a forest trail with white spray paint in undefinable forms and shapes
Graffiti in the woods near Floyd Dryden Middle School. KTOO is not publishing images of the racist language that is being investigated as a hate crime. (Courtesy of Janna Lelchuk)

Juneau police are investigating racist graffiti in the woods near Floyd Dryden Middle School as a hate crime. The graffiti, which police described as including “hateful and vulgar messages,” was reported to the department Wednesday afternoon.

Retired schoolteacher Janna Lelchuk and her husband were walking their dogs at Adair-Kennedy Park in Juneau last weekend when they encountered racist and obscene words in white spray paint on a bridge and some trees.

“There were horrible things written,” Lelchuk said. “Like, all over. And what really shocked me and surprised me there was this A-L-M sign, which absolutely didn’t go along with what was, you know, on the bridge or with all the writings and all the pictures.”

A-L-M stands for “All Lives Matter.”

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Lelchuk later went back to take photos of the graffiti and posted them in a public Facebook group.

Chelsea Elliott organized a group to clean up the graffiti. (courtesy Chelsea Elliott )

“I was kind of hoping that we stay away from all that, you know, disgracefulness that’s happening around,” Lelchuk said. “Unfortunately, we see it happening here, too, and that’s frustrating and kind of sad. Very sad.”

Juneau resident Chelsea Elliott says she got a group together to clean up the graffiti.

“You know, when we went out there to clean it, they had a sporting event going on,” Elliott said. “There were kids wandering around the trees and stuff right around that area. Lots of families and younger kids that can see stuff like that.”

She says they scrubbed the paint off easily with dish soap.

Juneau Police Lt. Krag Campbell says the penalty for racist graffiti can go beyond vandalism.

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“That ‘Oh, a tree got spray painted.’ Yeah, that’s the physical part of it,” Campbell said. “But there’s an emotional side of it that damages people who see that. And we just want to make sure that we understand, that people understand this. This is not okay. It’s not okay to do these types of things. And it impacts a lot of people.”

Campbell says Juneau police are investigating the graffiti as a hate crime. He’s asking anyone with information to contact police.

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