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Racist graffiti found scrawled on Grand Island bus stop

A man trying to catch a bus in a Buffalo suburb Wednesday night made a startling discovery.

Jordan Sanders found the glass on a bus shelter on Grand Island covered with drawings of nooses and written messages that read "------- die here."

He saw the racist graffiti at about 8:30 p.m. at a bus stop near Bedell Road and Grand Island Boulevard.

Sanders, a 23-year-old black man, said he started to cry.

"I felt so small in that moment," he told The Buffalo News on Thursday.

The incident happened the same day as two other disturbing racial incidents in Western New York. Someone drew a swastika and wrote "Make America White Again" on a softball dugout in Wellsville and someone hung a black doll by a noose in the elevator of a dorm at Canisius College.

Here's the video Sanders posted on Twitter (WARNING: Explicit language):

Sanders said he was taking the bus because his car was in the shop, and he was going to a friend's house to get a ride to work.

Scott Zylka, spokesman for the sheriff's office, confirmed deputies responded to a criminal mischief call at the bus stop Wednesday night, but he said there was nothing in the incident report about whether or not there was anything written on the shelter's glass.

But it wasn't only what was written on the glass that bothered Sanders. It was the response from police.

Sanders said he didn't feel he should have to be the one to wipe the messages from the glass. He said he tried to clean it, but some cloth and cleaner were needed. So he called police on his cellphone from the bus stop.

Sanders said a dispatcher told him the department doesn't "have the tools" to clean the glass. He said he was told he should call the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority in the morning. By the time he got off the phone, the dispatcher said she would call someone about it.

At that point, he said he thought that was the end of the situation.

[Related: Disturbing acts in Wellsville, at Canisius College follow Election Day]

But then four police officers in four police vehicles showed up at his house, where his girlfriend and 1 1/2-year-old child were. Sanders said he never gave the police his home address, which was roughly 75 yards from the bus stop.

Zylka, the sheriff's spokesman, said Sanders hung up on the dispatcher when he was told deputies wouldn't be able to clean it up. That led the sheriff's office to use caller ID to track the call to the name on the wireless account and to find his address, according to Zylka. Two sheriff's vehicles were dispatched on the call, he said.

If Sanders filed a complaint but then hung up, the sheriff's office has to perform the due diligence to verify the complaint, Zylka said. Deputies took the initiative to find Sanders, but it's not the sheriff's office responsibility to clean up NFTA property, he said.

Sanders said he believes it was a public servant's responsibility to make him feel safe.

"I was in complete shock and awe after what the police said to me," he said.

Late Thursday morning, the sheriff's office spokesman told The Buffalo News the agency's Professional Standards Division began an investigation earlier in the day into the interaction between the deputies and Sanders. The investigation began after the office saw Sanders' video on Twitter, Zylka said.

Sanders, who said he was up all night and didn't sleep after what happened, moved to Grand Island about six months ago. After he tweeted about what happened, he said there was a tremendous outpouring of support from other Twitter users. He said at least 20 people said they were on their way to the bus stop to clean the glass.

Douglas Hartmayer, spokesman for the NFTA, said Thursday morning the agency will send a maintenance crew to the site to clean the bus stop. If the messages can't be cleaned off, the glass or plexiglass would be replaced, he said.


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