Why This Couple Isn't Washing Away the Racial Slur Spray-Painted on Their Garage

February 22nd 2017

Almie Rose

Over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend, one interracial couple from Connecticut said they woke up to find the N-word spray painted on their garage door — and they're not removing it.

Now, they are being charged $100 per day by the city of Stamford for their refusal to take it down. The citation is known as a "Notice of Blight Violation," totaling $700 per week, according to Gothamist, who reports that as of Tuesday, the couple's fines have reached "over $3,600."

The local police need to "do their job," find the vandals, and "not just cover it up and sweep it under the table as they have done in the past," Heather Lindsay, wife to Lexene Charles, told The New York Post. Lindsay claimed their home and her husband, a black man, have been the targets of racism in their neighborhood "several times" in the past. "That’s why we’re leaving it up. Because I’ve had it," she added.

"For them to be called n****r, it must be so hurtful that they can easily just erase the board and suffer within, quietly by themselves, and act like nothing happened. And in fact, that’s what the Stamford police asked them to do. They were requested to take the sign down... and to just act normal, like nothing happened," Darnell Crosland, legal counsel for the state NAACP, told The Stamford Advocate Monday.

"What we want you do to is to go canvass this neighborhood and find out who did this," Crosland told Stamford police in a news conference. "What we want you to do is to put a patrol car out here and act like you give a damn, and make sure these people are protected."

The city’s director of public safety, Ted Jankowski, released an emailed statement, according to The Advocate, which stated that the police have been investigating the incident. The Advocate reported that the police department offered to remove the slur, but the couple declined the offer. Jankowski said their refusal made other neighborhood residents "upset."

Dan Barrett, legal director for the state American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said it's possible Lindsay and her husband could be protected by the First Amendment in regards to their Notice of Blight Violation, The Stamford Advocate reported Tuesday.

"It depends on how the city has used this ordinance in the past and whether it’s been consistent in enforcing it," he told The Advocate, adding, "[Leaving the slur] can show to people that even these awful words sometimes have a place in political discourse. They want people to understand what they’re going through - that they are suffering."

[H/T New York Post]