A racial epithet spray-painted near a playground is being investigated as a hate crime by Palo Alto police.
Officers responded to a call regarding vandalism and found the epithet in blue paint on Sunday, March 21, at 10:09 a.m. in Heritage Park, located at 300 Homer Ave. A man walking in the park had noticed it, police said.
Officers found the blue spray paint in several areas of the downtown Palo Alto park, including the bark of a tree.
"Of most concern was a short sentence that included a racial epithet written in about 5-inch-tall letters on a concrete curb set in the ground that separates grass from dirt," police said in a statement on Tuesday.
The racial slur was directed at African Americans. On a nearby wall with decorative tiles, police found images of male genitalia. Two first names were also painted — one on the tile, one on the ground. Police also found 15 to 20 empty cans of alcohol that had been spray painted. They collected the discarded cap of a blue spray-paint can as evidence. A Public Works crew removed the paint, police said.
The crime likely occurred overnight from Saturday into Sunday, police said. Investigators don't have any suspects at this time. The department said the city will not tolerate hate crimes in the city toward any group.
"In the wake of recent national events and increased attention on hate crimes, the personnel of the Palo Alto Police Department continue to show their commitment to thoroughly investigating any reported hate crimes in Palo Alto," the department stated.
"Last night, the Palo Alto City Council denounced violence directed at people of Asian descent, and that has come on the heels of months of efforts with City Council's ongoing conversations and work on race and equity. The city of Palo Alto strongly denounces hate crimes of all kinds, and encourages members of our community to promptly report these incidents by calling our 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413, or 9-1-1 if it is an emergency," the police department stated.