What is a Silent Witness and how do you become one?
It’s been more than a week since Tishonda White-Grissom discovered racist graffiti spray-painted on her El Mirage home, and she’s still reeling.
White-Grissom turned to Facebook Live to document what she found the morning of May 27: Big, ugly words stating, “Trump was here” on her front door, “N- – – – – Leave” painted on the garage door, and other offensive phrases on the side of her house.
It was a sight she’d never personally seen before and harkened to a time she thought was bygone.
“It’s 2017, and this is what Trump has turned people to,” a crying White-Grissom told Facebook friends in a live video. “Look at what we woke up to. This hurts. Who would do this?”
She said that someone had meddled with the house’s outside power box and cut electricity overnight.
She became emotional as she recounted the experience. White-Grissom said President Donald Trump’s rhetoric during the election cycle has “unmasked” racists who feel emboldened to act hatefully and violently.
“What he preached and what he spoke made people think it was OK to do the things they’re doing,” White-Grissom said Wednesday. “This was done by the people that listened to what Trump said and felt like this was OK to do.”
White-Grissom has lived at the residence near Cactus and El Mirage roads with her husband and three young children for the past year.
Online, commenters who came across the videos told her to purchase a gun.
“That never crossed my mind, and it’s the thing we need least at this moment,” she said. “To be honest — I think it would backfire on us. I am the wrong color to stand my ground. That don’t do me any good.”
She said despite the outpouring of support by neighbors who helped to paint over the graffiti, she and her family are looking for another home in the wake of the incident.
“It was like being in the old days or something. It was baffling that this happened now,” she said. “This was eye-opening to me and my family. We all used to say that we are not our great-grandparents and that we wouldn’t allow ourselves to run away. But now that we’re in that situation, I’m asking if we’re strong enough to do that. For me and my husband, yes, but not my children. We have to move.”
Authorities said Wednesday that the incident remains under investigation but that there have been no suspects or leads identified in the case.
Footage from a neighbor’s security cameras have been submitted as evidence, police said. Anyone with information is urged to contact the El Mirage police at 623-933-1341.
In a November 2016 interview with CBS’ Lesley Stahl on “60 Minutes,” Trump addressed reports of racially charged violence by his alleged supporters in the wake of the election.
“I would say. ‘Don’t do it. That’s terrible,’ ‘cause I’m gonna bring this country together,” Trump said. “I am so saddened to hear that. And I say, ‘Stop it.’”
Other apparent hate incidents have been reported in Arizona in recent months, including fliers at Arizona State University calling to “save the white race,”bomb threats, racist graffiti and the twisting of a decorative menorah into a swastika, among others.
No reliable federal data exists in the United States that documents hate crimes or incidents of prejudice and intimidation.
The Arizona Republic is among several news organizations, civil-rights groups and technology companies partnered with ProPublica, a non-profit investigative newsroom, to document hate incidents through a database.
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