The night before the Super Bowl, a car parked in Ansley Park was tagged with graffiti including the words “nigger,” “faggot,” “kyke” and “fag. New Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields took the moment to re-affirm her commitment to leading a city without hate, according to Saporta Report, which first broke the story.
“Atlanta is not going to be a city of hate,” Shields told Stephanie Russell in a phone call on Super Bowl Sunday.
The night before, Stephanie and her husband, Jerome — son of the late civil rights activist and builder Herman Russell — were away at a Super Bowl party in Houston, Texas, when they received a call from their daughter in Atlanta. Her friend’s car was parked out front of their home and was vandalized, covered in racist slurs and sexually explicit drawings, as well as a misspelled reference to the Holocaust.
“I literally had to find a quiet spot,” Jerome told Saporta Report. “I was disgusted, angry, hurt — why did this happen?”
Atlanta police sent a car to the Russells’ home that night to ensure there were no other incidents. They took fingerprints and DNA samples of dried saliva left on the car’s windows, where one of the vandals expectorated, and even brought in an investigator with Homeland Security.
Police determined four teenage boys, who knew both the Russells’ daughter and her friend, were the culprits. Jerome said it was hard to believe that during the attack, not one of the four stood up and said this wasn’t right.
Three of the boys apologized through phone calls, messages and letters left on the front porch. Their parents also spoke out and said this was not the way their sons were raised.
The Russells hope to use the vandalism incident as a teachable moment, opening up discussion within the community to what it feels like to be African-American.
“We are not going to be nasty to people. In moments like this, you don’t give up,” Stephanie said.