In the middle of the night an unknown individual, or individuals, snuck into the North County Recreation District’s (NCRD) skate park and applied spray-paint graffiti to the halfpipe ramp. The message was clear, offensive, and racial in nature and has spurred the community to action.
“We have a wonderful opportunity as a community to show the nation how to be united against acts of hate of any kind,” said LaNicia Williams, owner of Coastal Soul and creator of the Oregon Coast Love Coalition. “We will prove that a zero tolerance for hate can and will be done.”
The message the vandals applied to the park property was particularly offensive toward people of color, coming at a time of heightened racial tension throughout the nation the graffiti was quickly spotted and photographed and since then the fallout from the finding has been one of unity and acceptance.
According to Lieutenant Horton with the Tillamook County Sheriff’s office the incident is being investigated but currently no additional information has been found regarding the vandalism.
“The incident is still currently under investigation,” said Lt. Horton with the Tillamook County Sheriff’s office. “So far we have not received any additional reports of other instances of graffiti like this in the County, it appears to be a singular event.”
In the wake of the vandalism the community has responded with activity bent on addressing this issue upfront. Williams suggested that the Love Coalition is already organizing a number of community outreach efforts aimed at education in cultural diversity awareness within the local school districts and other community resources.
“The support is overwhelmingly big from the community,” said Williams. “However there are some who wish we could just ignore this and write the incident off, but I just can’t do that, this requires direct opposition. There needs to be consequences for hate speech.”
Since the incident took place on the property of the NCRD the organization has been quick to follow up with law enforcement as well as the surrounding community and skate park users.
“It’s a work in progress,” said David Wiegan, NCRD Executive Director. “People who do things like this want to reach an audience, we’re not going to give that to them.”
According to Wiegan they have been reviewing the surveillance footage from that evening and have turned over a copy to the Tillamook County Sheriff’s department.
The community has rallied to the cause and even took to the knee in response to the incident as a show of solidarity to equality on a local and national scale. The event was held on the morning of Saturday. Sept. 30 and saw 23 participants come to the sidewalk in front of the Manzanita Post Office and take a knee in support.