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Neighbors are shocked by racial slur

Neighbors in an Old First Ward neighborhood expressed dismay that the car of a new neighbor was keyed with a racial slur over the holiday weekend.

Neighbors, in fact, are hoping the incident occurred elsewhere, because they do not want their corner of South Buffalo labeled as racist.

"There are a lot of people who live down here who are different colors, and nobody bothers nobody. I've lived here my whole life, and this is a good neighborhood," Lisa Sauer said Monday evening. "I don't want the Old First Ward getting a bad name. We all look out for each other."

Marwam Taher of the 100 block of O'Connell Avenue reported to police that an unknown person etched the words "Sand N" onto the hood of his white 1998 BMW and the words "Go Home" on the trunk of the car.

Taher, who recently moved into an apartment on O'Connell with his family, said the vehicle also was keyed on both sides from the front to the rear fenders.

South District police say the complaint is receiving a high priority as they try to determine who was responsible for the racially motivated criminal mischief incident.

"We're checking to see if fingerprints were left on the car," South District Police Chief Patrick M. Pascall said Monday night.

This type of racial incident, Pascall added, is out of character for the neighborhood, pointing out that police are rarely called to O'Connell Avenue, near the intersection with Hamburg Street.

"It could have been done by a transient. We get a lot traffic passing through on Hamburg Street," Pascall said.

As for the neighbors, they said Taher was welcomed two weeks ago when he moved in and went around introducing himself.

"This is not good. People should get along. He seems like a nice guy," said Donald Cleveland, who has lived on the street for the last 11 years.

Diane Carmichael, Cleveland's girlfriend, raised the possibility that the incident occurred elsewhere.

"When the police came Sunday night to take a report, he mentioned that he hadn't noticed the keying until he went to the store and somebody pointed it out to him," Carmichael said. "We take care of each other in this neighborhood, and he's a nice guy."

Besari Marshall, a Hispanic woman who lives in the first-floor apartment of the house where the Taher family resides on the second floor, said she relocated to the Old First Ward four months ago because it is a safe place to live.

"I used to live with my children on the West Side, but we had a home invasion, so I moved. This is a calm place. I'm a single, working mother, and I don't bother anyone," Marshall said.

She said it was "crazy" that someone would mark up Taher's vehicle.

"Everybody has the same color blood. We just have different skin color. We should all get along with each other and be tolerant," Marshall said.

Anyone with information on the incident can call or text the Buffalo Police Department's confidential TIP-CALL line at 847-2255 or submit information via the "Report a Tip" function on the department's website,