Palo Alto police have launched a hate crime investigation after a Black Lives Matter sign was reportedly vandalized and had the word “Black” replaced with “Asian.”
The incident occurred in the 3300 block of Park Boulevard in the Ventura neighborhood between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on April 5. A woman in her 60s called the police at 4:08 p.m. after she discovered that her Black Lives Matter sign on her property was vandalized.
The unidentified vandal reportedly used an adhesive to stick a paper with the word “Asian” written on it to cover the word “Black” on the sign. The sign was later damaged after the woman attempted to remove the paper.
“Officers will thoroughly investigate any reported hate crimes in Palo Alto, including stolen or destroyed yard signs if the incident appears to be motivated by the victim’s real or perceived protected social group,” the police department said.
In a statement, Lieutenant James Reifschneider of the Palo Alto Police Department explained the incident is considered a hate crime rather than a hate incident as a result of the damage to the victim’s property.
“We’ve had signs draped over, signs covered it up, but this one damaged the sign, so there’s the distinction between hate crime and hate incident,” Reifschneider said. “The motivation may be the same, but in one instance there’s a crime of vandalism and the other no underlying crime.”
The incident at Park Boulevard was the third instance where a vandal had tampered with the woman’s yard sign, with the first case reported in October 2021 and another in February 2022. In one of the incidents, all of which were documented as hate incidents by police, a vandal reportedly placed an “Asian Lives Matter” sign over the resident’s sign without causing any damage to the property.
Palo Alto PD believes the three incidents are related but could not find any cause as to why the woman was always the target.
“The City of Palo Alto strongly denounces hate crimes of all kinds and encourages community members to promptly report these incidents by calling our 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413 or 9-1-1 if it is an emergency,” the Palo Alto PD press release read.
Featured image via NBC Bay Area