January 13, 2010 in City

Vandalism of car in CdA follows racist epithets

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Kathy Plonka photo

Brittany Edelblute, 18, listens Tuesday as her friend Stephanie Guy, left, describes a few of the racial incidents that have occurred in front of their Coeur d’Alene home. Edelblute’s car was recently spray-painted with swastikas.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Someone early Friday spray-painted swastikas on a car outside the downtown Coeur d’Alene home of a woman who regularly has African-American friends visiting.

In addition, about two weeks ago, some men drove past the Front Avenue home in a white pickup, slowed down and yelled a racial epithet while flying a confederate flag, the residents told police.

Stephanie Guy, who has rented the home for two years, called the police around noon on Friday, the Coeur d’Alene police report said. Guy’s daughter, Tara Silva, told police that she went to bed around midnight the night the vandalism occurred. She was awakened by the family’s dog barking around 2 or 3 a.m. but did not get up.

Brittany Edelblute, 18, owns the 2004 Subaru Outback that was spray-painted with three swastikas on the driver’s side, which was facing the street. She discovered the vandalism in the morning when she started her car to drive to a job interview.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ I cried. I went to my job interview in tears,” said Edelblute, who is white and lives at the house.

When police arrived, her emotions turned to anger. When asked if she wanted to press charges, “I said, ‘Yeah.’ I paid for that car. I think it’s absolutely rude.”

Silva described the vehicle that drove past two weeks ago as an older white pickup, possibly a GMC or Chevy, with tinted windows. She thought the vehicle had a standard cab and a short bed, the police report said. She said the vehicle’s lights were square.

Guy said people have yelled racist epithets from passing cars several times in the past year, but she hasn’t informed the police. “This time I was mad,” she said. “I was really mad, and I felt threatened. People should be aware that it’s real and it’s here.”

This is the eighth documented incident of racial harassment in the Inland Northwest since the spring, said Tony Stewart of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations. He urged people targeted by such attacks to secure license plate numbers and give them to the police.

Other Coeur d’Alene incidents have included a swastika sticker on a human rights center, swastikas spray-painted on a Middle Eastern man’s truck and the harassment of a Hispanic family. In Spokane, a noose was left on a black resident’s doorstep, and Native American men were beaten by a group of white men.

“We do know it’s not the same people in each case,” Stewart said. “There’s more than one group involved in these hate crimes around the area. If you catch them, I have no doubt (Kootenai County Prosecutor) Barry McHugh will prosecute them and so will the federal (government). It’s a matter of getting the evidence and that’s the job of the police.”

The police released no new information, but the case had been assigned to a detective, said Sgt. Christie Wood.

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