DENVER (KDVR) — Detectives with the Bias Motivated Crimes Unit for the Denver Police Department are investigating a hate crime reported on Nov. 17 in the Ruby Hill neighborhood.
The victim is a 26-year-old Black man who asked FOX31 not to reveal his identity but showed the Problem Solvers where someone spray painted half-a-dozen swastikas and racial slurs on the walls of a make-shift office and garage he rents in the 1900 block of South Huron Street.
“Get out (racial slur), go away a whole bunch of (racial slurs) everywhere, plus Swastikas,” said the victim who owns a junk removal and landscaping business. He stores tools in the garage and discovered his work space vandalized with racist graffiti sprayed on his furniture and walls.
“Honestly, I was pissed. There was no other feeling I could have — not sad or anything. Really if you want to be truthful, it gave me a little bit of hatred,” said the victim.
His anger was compounded when he said arriving officers told him the vandalism and racist graffiti could’ve been random and not aimed at him specifically.
“They kept telling me it’s random. I was even more pissed that I even called them. I was like, ‘How can this be random? They didn’t steal anything,'” said the 26-year-old before adding, “To be honest, what made me feel the worst was the one time you do call the police, they don’t take it serious.”
The victim was frustrated when he said officers told him there was no way to take fingerprints because the surfaces were too rough.
Denver police did not respond to specific questions from FOX31, saying the incident is an open case but said the case is being taken seriously and was assigned a detective from the department’s Bias Motivated Crimes unit.
Just two weeks ago the Federal Bureau of Investigation released hate crime stats showing a 74% spike in Colorado from 2018 to 2019.
In 2019, 210 hate crimes were reported, compared to 121 statewide in 2018.
More than half of all hate crimes in Colorado appear to be motivated by race, followed by religion, sexual orientation and disability.
The victim in this case said past remarks by some neighbors had him confident the perpetrator isn’t a random stranger but someone who doesn’t like a Black man renting work space in the neighborhood.
Just two days before the victim discovered the racist graffiti, he received a text from a number he didn’t recognize claiming to be from the City of Denver. The text arrived on a Sunday, a big hint to him that the text was a fake threat.
The text read, “According to the city, operating your business in the garage at 19** South Huron Street is illegal and you were ordered to cease and desist immediately. Our records show that you are still operating your business out of this location. If you do not stop operating your business out of this location we will be forced to take legal action against you and the owner that is allowing you to do this.”
The victim said the text and the racist graffiti make two things clear to him.
“They want me out of here No. 1, that’s the blatant message that they wanted to send. No. 2 is there is still racism here,” he said.
Denver police are asking anyone with information about the hate crime to contact Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at: 720-913-7867.