Leader Blues

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

TOP STORY >>Mayor removes graffiti

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams was out Saturday painting over the racial slur that was spray-painted on the Highland Boulevard home of a military member stationed in Iraq. “It’s despicable,” the mayor said. “It doesn’t represent the heart of Cabot, and we are not going to tolerate it.” “It’s sad that at this time in the world people still hang on to those ideas,” the mayor added. After the mayor painted over the derogatory phrase, he said Monday a professional painter was hired to go out and repaint the door.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into the matter, along with another incident that may be considered hate crimes. Marcel Williams, who was stunned after she found her home vandalized, said when she stepped outside with her 11-year-old son for the school bus last Friday morning, he told her something was painted on the garage door. Because of a disability, he could not tell what it said, but Mrs. Williams could not believe what she saw – “move nigga” in black spray paint.
She went inside and called 911.

“If it was a prank, it’s not funny,” Mrs. Williams, who is an African-American, said. “It’s not funny whatsoever. I don’t know who did it or why, but I’d like the people who did it caught.” Mrs. Williams and her family — including her husband, TSgt. Henry Williams, a crew chief with the 332nd Electronics Maintenance Group, who arrived in Iraq over the weekend — moved to Cabot last May and have never had any problems with others about their being black, she said. “This doesn’t make me have second thoughts about living in Cabot. It doesn’t matter where you live, if someone violates your home. A crime is a crime,” Mrs. Williams said. “I like my house, I like the area we live in,” she added.

Mrs. Williams said she told both Mayor Williams and Police Chief Jackie Davis that she wanted the crime solved and “not pushed under the rug.” “I hope something can and will be done about this,” Mrs. Williams said. Mrs. Williams said her neighbors had been absolutely supportive since the ordeal and that she had also received support from the local Little Rock Air Force Base community. While canvassing neighbors Saturday for information about the vandalism of the Williams’ home, a Cabot police officer learned of a second incident.

Erica Baker, on active duty with the Army who lives on North Hills, a block away from Williams’ home, told the officer she found a noose hanging from a tree in her front yard Friday morning when she was leaving her house. In the loop was a newspaper article about Martin Luther King, Jr., and segregation. Baker also told the officer that she was unable to get heat at her home and after contacting the gas company found that someone had turned off the gas to her residence, according to the police report.

The investigation is ongoing for both reports and extra patrol has been added to the neighborhood. According to Sgt. Brent Lucas with the Cabot Police Department, officers have not found any connection between the two incidents. “Nothing has been found yet to give the officers any leads,” Lucas said.