Miami Gardens, the city that's home to Sun Life Stadium and one of Florida's highest crime rates, has had a wrenchingly difficult week. Days after police fatally shot a mentally ill man armed with a broom, city leaders are now dealing with an apparent hate crime.
Yesterday, someone spray-painted "KKK" symbols -- along with phrases like "move out" -- around Miami Gardens. City leaders and civil rights activists this morning are calling for justice.
"We condemn this vandalism," Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Florida Regional Director Hava Holzhauer said in statement to New Times. "We urge law enforcement to investigate this as a potential hate crime, as well as for all members of the community to publicly denounce this hateful vandalism."
The graffiti was found in at least five locations around Miami Gardens, a predominantly African-American city.
— Bobby Brooks (@BobbyBrooksNBC6) February 19, 2015
— Oralia Ortega (@oraliaortega) February 18, 2015
Miami Gardens Police Chief Stephen Johnson told reporters that the department is treating the graffiti as a grave crime. "Prank or no prank, we are going to be treating this very seriously," he told the media.
A police spokesman told New Times this morning that no new information has emerged in the case.
The ADL, though, says that whoever left the graffiti had one goal in mind: intimidating residents in their own homes.
"[It was likely] someone within the community who seeks to instill fear in a particular group with the intent of pushing them out of the neighborhood," Holzhauer says.
The crime comes as Johnson scrambles to deal with outrage over Monday's shooting of Lavall Hall, a schizophrenic man whose mother had called police for help during an episode. Hall was shot and killed when he used a broom handle to attack two officers.
Anti-police-violence activists have seized on the death as the latest in the #BlackLivesMatter campaign on Twitter and Facebook, while Johnson has been quick to defend the officers involved.
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