Saturday, September 08, 2007

Police look into racist vandalism in Dogtown

Gary Klien
Marin Independent Journal

Racist comments scrawled on a highway sign and a tarp in West Marin have prompted an investigation by the sheriff's office.

The vandalism was discovered at 3:45 a.m. Wednesday by a deputy patrolling Shoreline Highway in Dogtown, a sparsely populated village between Olema and Bolinas. Police said someone wrote "Help KKK kill blacks" on a state "Adopt a Highway" sign in the 5900 block of Shoreline Highway.

The vandal or vandals also wrote "It's not a crime to be white and proud" on a tarp and stretched it from the highway sign to a nearby tree, said sheriff's Lt. Scott Anderson.

The vandalism had not been present when the deputy passed the area at 8:45 p.m. Tuesday.

"The smell of fresh paint was still in the air," Anderson said.

No similar incidents have been reported, and Anderson said he could recall no such graffiti ever occurring in the area.

Cela O'Connor, who has lived in Dogtown since 1966, expressed disbelief when informed of the incident.

"You're kidding - in West Marin?" she said. "I know everybody who lives out here in Dogtown. I just don't see that coming from anyone up in my neck of the woods.

"That's really odd. That's an anomaly. All we got out here is signs that say 'Save the white deer.'"

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's investigators at 499-7265.

Hate-related crimes of any variety are rare in Marin. In 2006, eight hate offenses were reported, including five in San Rafael, two in Novato and one in the unincorporated area, according to the state Department of Justice.

In 2005, Marin reported 10 hate-related offenses, including seven in unincorporated areas, two in Novato and one in San Rafael.

By comparison, Sonoma County, which has roughly twice Marin's population, logged 29 hate-related offenses last year, including two in Petaluma.

Statewide, the number of hate offenses increased slightly between 2005 and 2006, rising from 1,691 to 1,702, the Department of Justice reported.

Roughly two-thirds of the incidents involved race, ethnicity or national origin; the remainder primarily involved sexual orientation or religion.

The number of hate-related offenses in California hit a 10-year peak of 2,265 in 2001.

Source: MarIniJ

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