UPDATE: Arlington police not yet calling anti-gay graffiti on lesbian couple’s vehicle a hate crime

Posted on 11 Jun 2012 at 2:44pm

Arlington police say they aren’t yet calling incident in which a lesbian couple’s SUV was spray-painted with anti-gay slurs a hate crime.

The couple was among the victims in a string of 10 incidents of vandalism in the 1100 block of Crowley Road over the weekend. Tiara Richard, a spokeswoman for Arlington Police Department, said the targeted residences had spray-painted images and words on the houses and cars. Homeowners reported the vandalism to police early Sunday morning.

One of the homes belonged to a lesbian couple, whose SUV, pictured above, had the words “faggot” and “queers” spray-painted on it.

Richard said police are not yet calling the incident a hate crime because it is one of 10 incidents.

“We’re investigating it as a crime,” she said. “If there’s a hate element to it, we’ll share that with the district attorney’s office, and they’ll make that call.”

She said the spray-painted hateful images and words were “all across the spectrum,” including derogatory images, drug references, accusations of sexual assault and even a message aimed at police.

“At this point, it’s just all-around ugliness,” she said. “This was not directed at any one group. This was across-the-board ugliness.”

Richard said she isn’t familiar with the neighborhood and doesn’t know whether similar incidents have occurred in the area in the past.

Tom Anable, president of the LGBT advocacy group Fairness Fort Worth, said he’s pleased with the police response.

“We’re going to let them investigate and see where they go,” he said. “I’m comfortable with the track they’re taking. The victims are comfortable with the way they’re going.”

As for the hate crime classification, Anable said sexual images and words targeted both straight and LGBT residents in the neighborhood, so the motive of the vandals is not yet clear.

Equality Texas Deputy Executive Director Chuck Smith said there is a basis for police to investigate the incident involving the lesbian couple as motivated by bias toward their sexual orientation. He said the culprits may know the residents in the neighborhood based on what they wrote on the lesbian’s vehicle.

“It is fair to say that it was one large or continuous act of vandalism,” he said. “Within that, if some of the specific targets were motivated by some sort of bias, then there certainly is a basis for an investigation of any particular house or any particular target that might suggest bias motivation.”

Criminal mischief is classified as a misdemeanor, but its class varies on the amount of damage caused. If the damage exceeds $1,500, it is classified as a state jail felony. Richard said the total damage from the incidents is still being calculated.

Arlington police didn’t report any hate crimes based on sexual orientation in 2010 or 2009, according to the FBI’s hate crime statistics. The city saw two sexual orientation-motivated hate crimes in 2008, one in 2007, and none in 2006.

Anyone with information about these incidents should contact Detective Julianne Armendariz at 817-459-6054 or call the Arlington Police Department at 817-459-5600.

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