By Erica Edwards
Oct. 22, 2003
City leaders are considering whether to coordinate an investigation and a neighborhood awareness meeting to curb a pattern of hate crimes that recently included several attacks on a teacher's house.
English teacher Jennifer Moffitt and her roommates said they hope effort from police and city officials will help catch the vandal who spray-painted racist graffiti on their Mission District home three times in the past two months.
City supervisor Tom Ammiano and his office staff have said they will coordinate with the Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee to help the victims of these hate crimes.
"I think if Tom Ammiano's office puts some pressure on the police department to put an end to this, it will help a lot," said Sama Abu Ayyash, Moffitt's Palestinian roommate.
Racist graffitti sprawls across the window of English teacher Jennifer Moffitt's house for the third time in two months./COURTESY OF SHAUN LANDRY
An unidentified perpetrator wrote "kill Arabs," "die pig" and "die s---" on Moffitt's sidewalk and house, possibly in response to a small Palestinian flag in the window. Moffitt has also found feces and rotten food on her doorstep once in the past month.
Police have not been reassuring, according to Ayyash.
In order for a full-fledged investigation to begin, a person must commit a violent act or make threats which must pertain to a specific person, according to police officer Lucy Clemmons.
"Each time our house got hit, we were faced with discouraging remarks by the police, such as, 'You may want to take down the flag' and 'We don't have enough manpower to take finger prints,'" Ayyash said. "I think if the police set up an undercover cop on the specific nights that this vandal seems to hit, they'll be able to catch him."
Ayyash said she and her roommates plan to keep the flag in their window. "My housemates and I have every right to put whatever we want on our front door," Ayyash said.
Employees from the Women's Building, an outreach center for females, and Cesar Chavez Elementary School have already opened investigations because of hateful graffiti on their buildings. The owner of the Little Spot Café said that he will also ask police to open an investigation after he found similar racist graffiti on his building.
The Women's Building employees will hold a community event and vigil to raise awareness.
The media and the public are in part responsible for these hate crimes, according to freshman Joey Leidner, a resident of the Mission district.
"I think the hate crimes stem from ignorance in the public," Leidner said. "It is a way for people to express anger towards the world because they don't know how to control it appropriately."
Hate crimes against Arabs, Muslims or anyone appearing to be from these communities are nothing new, according to Sonya Kaleel, hotline manager for the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in San Francisco.
Kaleel said that 34 hate crimes occurred during four months of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, and nearly 60 hate crimes took place in January 1991 after the Gulf War began.