Courier Editorial Board
How ashamed many of us were this week to discover that actions from someone in our city caused a family to not move here.
We don’t know the family from Chicago — a mom and dad and three kids — but when they first came to visit, they liked what they saw and put a bid on a house on Chester Avenue.
They were dismayed the next day to find the letters “KKK” smeared on the side of a garage wall on their property. They decided not to move here. And decided not to move to Iowa.
While agreeing that there probably are many nice people in Ottumwa, the mother said she didn’t want to risk moving into a neighborhood where her children may be exposed to that type of racism.
Most of us want to think that it is a prank, a random act of vandalism.
And many of us are encouraged by city groups that are working hard to rid the city of graffiti, weedy and junky areas.
A messy lot, though, is different than deliberate vandalism — the kind of hatred exposed by this week’s graffiti.
The Chicago family was black. The letters spray-painted on the building walls had a definite racial tone that would upset anyone, especially blacks. The “KKK” is typically an acronym for the white supremacist group, the Ku Klux Klan.
We are very ashamed that this happened.
It is not a small thing to overlook. It doesn’t matter if kids did it, vandals did it or neighbors did it.
The fact is that it was done, and we lost new citizens because of it.
All of us need to work to stop this kind of action and this kind of attitude.
Our community is thriving because of the mix of cultures we’ve been adding to the town for decades now, from the Southeast Asians of 30 years ago to the recent influx of citizens from Mexico, Central America and other nations.
As one blogger wrote, “It isn’t OK to have even ‘a little racism’ in town.” As a white male, he said that he would think twice before moving to a property that had “Kill Whitey” spray-painted on a garage.
Was this one incident? Maybe. If so, it is one too many.
Our community cannot afford more black eyes. Not now, not when we have so many good things going for us.
If you see such actions taking place, please report them immediately to law enforcement. We all need to work together to protect our homes, our neighborhoods and our city.
There are few things worse than racism. We should not tolerate even once instance.