CLAY CENTER, Kan. (KSNT) – The Clay Center Police Department is investigating a hate crime after someone spray painted 12 racist comments around the town on Tuesday, according to Clay Center Police Chief Bill Robinson.
The comments were on various community member’s garages, the water tower and even the local elementary school.
Clay Center’s population is 97% white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“It’s definitely very personal to me,” concerned citizen Erin Mellies said. “My son’s biracial and we’ve encountered some instances of racism in his lifetime and I can’t imagine what it’s like for him.”
Mellies said when she first moved to Clay Center with her son, he was instantly welcomed.
However, this shows the town in a different light.
“These messages and these signs are a threat, that’s how it’s perceived,” Mellies said. “It’s saying that people don’t like you and wish harm upon you.”
However, the town came together later that day to make it right by cleaning up the vandalism.
Bryce Dolan organized a Clean Up Clay Center Facebook event, and said the community’s response was promising.
“It’s been an amazing response to the community to show whoever did this that we’re not going to let your hateful statements ring with us,” Dolan said. “We’re going to erase them and we’re going to keep moving forward and welcoming everyone into the community.”
Local businesses donated their time and supplies to help clean off the spray paint.
Clay Center police are still investigating who did this, and are checking local stores to see of any recent purchases of red spray paint, Robinson said.
“It really shocked me that this happened here,” Robinson said. “That’s not really the way we are as a community.”
Dolan said he hopes the clean up will not only be a wake up call to some, but also show people care about their town and the people in it.