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Racist Graffiti at Waldorf School Area's 2nd Recent Case

By Arthur Santana
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 3, 2005; Page SM03

Racist graffiti were discovered Thursday at an elementary school in Waldorf, the Charles County Sheriff's Office said Friday. The incident follows by about a month similar ones in Lexington Park that prompted outrage in St. Mary's County.

In both cases, "KKK" was spray-painted. On Thursday, a Charles County sheriff's deputy called to Eva Turner Elementary School in the Bannister neighborhood found racial slurs and "KKK" spray-painted on the building.

In late February, the letters "KKK," the word "kills" and a threat using a racial epithet saying that African Americans "will die" were spray-painted in the snow on the grounds of the Minority Business Alliance on Three Notch Road in Lexington Park.

It is not clear whether the two incidents are related. On Friday, investigators with the Charles County Sheriff's Office revealed few details about the incident at Turner Elementary.

Meanwhile, authorities investigating the Lexington Park incident said Friday that they have not made an arrest in the case.

"We're making progress, but no arrest at this point," Lt. Brian Cedar of the Maryland State Police said.

Several days after the St. Mary's vandalism, nearly 200 people filled Zion United Methodist Church near Lexington Park to hear speakers, including members of the Board of County Commissioners, condemn the spray-paintings.

Minority business owners in St. Mary's County, most of them black, gather at the Minority Business Alliance building once a month. The building also houses an office of the St. Mary's County branch of the NAACP, said its president, William Bowman.

A swastika was spray-painted on the door of a car that belongs to a black man who lives in a neighborhood behind the building, Cedar said.

Bowman, who organized the meeting at the church, denounced the spray-paintings at the time as "hate crimes . . . designed to hurt as many people as possible" and said "that hurt remains long after the graffiti has been removed."

St. Mary's State's Attorney Richard D. Fritz (R), who was also at the meeting, said at the time that "St. Mary's County will not become home to the Ku Klux Klan."

For some officials and residents, last week's vandalism brought to mind the Hunters Brooke arson in December in Charles County.

In that case, a court affidavit recounting an interview with suspect Jeremy D. Parady says he suggested a racial motive for the Dec. 6 fires in the new subdivision.

The fires destroyed 10 unoccupied new houses and damaged 16 others.

In the interview with authorities mentioned in the affidavit, Parady, 20, said suspect Aaron L. Speed complained months before the fires that the "neighborhood is going black" and used racial epithets in referring to the owners of the new houses. Other possible motives suggested by authorities include drawing attention to a car club led by one of the defendants in the case and retaliation against the security company that employed Speed.

Charles County authorities are asking anyone with information about the graffiti incident at Eva Turner Elementary to contact the sheriff's office at 301-932-7777.

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