Chief reports uptick in graffiti
Marblehead police are continuing to investigate a case of racist and homophobic graffiti discovered July 26 in a vacant Marblehead Housing Authority apartment on Barnard Hawkes Court.
“Somebody used a marker to go throughout the apartment and write different things. There were about a dozen markings on the wall — homophobic and racist comments,” said Chief Dennis King.
There were also comments targeting a person at the Housing Authority, King added. He declined to elaborate because the investigation is active.
King will report the incident to the Anti-Defamation League and the Marblehead Task Force Against Discrimination.
While the incident was noted in the police log, the department did not proactively seek to alert the community of the incident.
Asked why, King responded, “Nobody was going to see this. It was an empty apartment in the Housing Authority. It’s an instance that is clearly disturbing, but the only people who saw it were the people inside the Housing Authority who were cleaning it or working on it. Other cases have been more public. I’m not trying to minimize it, but this was inside and wasn’t really for the public to see.”
“We abhor homophobic, racist and antisemitic acts,” said Helaine Hazlett, co-chair of the Task Force. “It’s too bad that all of this is alive and well in our community, but we’re working hard to prevent more and more of it.”
Rev. Jim Bixby with the Marblehead Racial Justice Team, added, “We are absolutely not surprised by this kind of incident anymore because it does fit into a town-wide pattern.”
Last spring, there were several incidents of antisemitic graffiti at the Village School. There have been many cases of antisemitic, racist and homophobic graffiti in Marblehead parks and beaches and under the Village Street bridge.
King will be sending a list of hate graffiti incidents to the ADL so they can be included in the ADL’s heat map.
Bixby remains optimistic about a more inclusive Marblehead.
“Every year, we see that more people are interested in turning this into a community of love and inclusion,” he said. “That’s where the future is.”
‘Foolish messages and some vulgarity’
In the last few months, police have also seen an increase if graffiti not related to hate speech around town, most recently at Seaside Park. There were three incidents at the tennis court and another at the grandstand, King said.
“There’s nothing distinctive about it – foolish messages and some vulgarity,” King said.
There was another case at Forest River conservation area “with an anti-police tag,” King added.
Anyone with information about the Housing Authority vandalism is asked to call Marblehead Police at 781-631-1212.
Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.