Police investigating anti-immigrant graffiti as hate crime
Message spray-painted on former Army Reserve Center in Westminster, where feds had been considering housing immigrant children
by Christian Alexandersen, Carroll County Times
July 15, 2014
Maryland State Police have classified anti-immigration graffiti spray-painted July 13, 2014, on the former Army Reserve Center in Westminster, Md., as a hate crime. The facility recently became embroiled in controversy when the Obama administration considered using it to house immigrant children caught crossing the US-Mexico border illegally.
The graffiti was sprayed sometime Saturday night or early Sunday morning, according to Lt. Patrick McCrory, commander of the state police Westminster barracks. The graffiti said “NO ILLEAGLES [sic] HERE NO UNDOCUMENTED DEMOCRATS.”
It was spray-painted on the front of the Army Reserve Center, which recently became embroiled in controversy when the Obama administration considered using the facility to house immigrant children caught crossing the US-Mexico border illegally.
The Carroll County Board of Commissioners spoke out against the federal government’s plan on Friday during an emergency cabinet meeting. Commissioners attending the meeting pledged not to provide any assistance to federal agencies if or when they moved the children to the facility.
By Saturday, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told local officials that the 3.8-acre, vacant facility would not be used as a shelter for immigrant children. State police began their investigation into the graffiti after it was discovered Sunday morning.
McCrory said they do not have any suspects and no witnesses have come forward yet, but it is still early in the investigation process.
“It’s going to be difficult if there’s no witnesses unless somebody speaks up or starts talking about it on Facebook or tells a friend,” McCrory said. “Usually, that’s how these people get caught … I wouldn’t be surprised if someone starts bragging about it.”
McCrory said the graffiti was being considered a hate crime because of its racial message.
“This is definitely a racial, religious, ethnic incident,” McCrory said.
Hate crimes are considered a misdemeanor crime, punishable by up to three years in a prison and a $5,000 fine, according to the Maryland State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy.