MARION — Marion police are investigating after a Marion family woke Friday morning to find a racial slur had been spray-painted on their home, garage and a truck parked on their property.
“This morning a despicable word was discovered to have been spray-painted on a home in our community,” the city said in a statement, calling it a “race-based crime.” “This is utterly unacceptable and a pointed reminder that no community is immune to the impacts of racism and hate.”
“I’m outraged,” Marion Mayor Nick AbouAssaly told The Gazette on Friday afternoon. “My family has been in Marion for 45 years, and I think everyone knows we are an immigrant family. We’ve always felt welcomed and embraced by the community at large, never really sensed anything to this extent in Marion.
“You know, I’m surprised by it, and I’m outraged,” he added. “There’s just no room for that in any community. And no person should have to live in fear of being targeted and bullied in that way. Whoever did this does not speak for the community and does not represent what this community stands for.”
The family, who live on Fourth Avenue southeast of downtown, declined to speak to The Gazette.
AbouAssaly also condemned the “act of hate” in a Facebook post, saying he had met with the family, Marion Police Chief Mike Kitsmiller and Marion City Manager Lon Pluckhahn.
“I have been with the family for a couple hours,” he said in the post. “We have expressed our city’s unconditional support in this difficult time for their family. ... They love Marion and were as surprised as all of us.”
AbouAssaly commended Marion residents for supporting the family, saying it made him “feel very proud.”
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Two Marion residents power-washed away the spray-painted words, the mayor said, and others stopped by the house or messaged the family with support.
“We must stand up to hate, and we must protect our neighbors,” AbouAssaly said in the city’s news release. “Every Marion resident has the right to feel secure, safe and welcomed in the place they call home.”
City officials said Marion police are working with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to determine if the vandalism falls under the federal hate crime statute.
Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to call Marion police at (319) 377-1511.
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