It may or may not meet the legal definition of a hate crime, but the vandalism done to the minivan of an African-American family in North Buffalo in the early morning hours last Sunday was enacted with obvious malice.
Jacquelyn Archie and her husband, David Washington, woke to discover their minivan had been ransacked. The tires were slashed, items of clothing belonging to their children shredded, school homework assignments torn up and some Christmas gifts that the parents had just purchased were stolen. In addition, a racial slur and other offensive language were written on parts of their vehicle.
Images of these incidents will stay with the family’s four children, ages 6 to 11, for the rest of their lives. Fortunately, they should also remember the heartening response from many of their neighbors. Archie told The News’ Stephen Watson that neighbors offered to pay for repairs to the minivan, while members of a North Buffalo Facebook group were collecting toys and clothes.
Racism in American society has never been eradicated, just pushed into hiding – sometimes. The rise of the so-called "alt-right" in recent years seems to have emboldened acts of aggression by people with hate in their hearts. It’s trolling that’s moved from the anonymity of the web out into the open.
In response, a number of people in our community and elsewhere have posted signs on their front lawns that say, “Hate has no home here.”
Good for the North Buffalo citizens who did more than post a sign, they walked the walk.
“I couldn’t ask for any better reaction than just showing me that this is not the way that everyone feels,” Archie told The News.
Washington wrote about the incident in a Facebook post on Sunday that went viral.
“People have messaged us just to say, ‘I live in your neighborhood and I want you to be here,’ ”Archie said.
A Facebook post shared by Washington shows that friends have organized a fundraiser for the family, to be held Oct. 29 at Salumeria Belsito restaurant, on Hertel Avenue.
Buffalo’s reputation as the “City of Good Neighbors” is more than an advertising slogan. It describes how many of us live our lives, helping each other cope with weather emergencies, unexpected medical bills or other challenges.
That reputation needs to be protected. Police already have a lot of work on their hands, but this attack on a family’s sense of security needs their attention. It would be good for the city to know who in their midst harbors this kind of hatred.
The Archie-Washington family has lived in its Parker Avenue home for about a year. Things had been peaceful until this ugly incident. And now, in a set of circumstances that no one would have chosen, the family has formed a stronger bond than ever with neighbors and online friends they have yet to meet.