Police are investigating a recent vandalism as a hate crime, after a resident's Ukrainian flags were torn down and left in the yard rolled up with feces in the Old Palo Alto neighborhood.
The resident, who lives near the 1400 block of Alma Street, not far from the Churchill Avenue intersection, made the discovery around 10 a.m. on Thursday, according to a press release. The two flags were attached to a hedge in the front yard before they were torn off and bundled up with feces.
Police believe the vandalism occurred between the evening of April 6 and the morning of April 7, the news release stated. They are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
No similar cases involving the Ukrainian flag in Palo Alto have occurred, police said.
The resident, who asked to remain anonymous out of privacy concerns, told this news organization that whoever engaged in the vandalism had entered her yard to deposit the two damaged and soiled flags. The flags, which measure 2 ½ feet by 4 feet, had been up for about 45 days and were securely fastened to a hedge. They were torn down with considerable violence, she added.
"That's a sick mind," she said. "I'm not going to fight hatred with hatred."
In a Nextdoor post on Thursday, the resident offered Ukrainian flags to those who wanted to display them in their yards.
"The response to this is for me to make many, many Ukraine flags for display in Palo Alto," she wrote. "Please let me know if you would like a Ukraine flag to display in solidarity with the Ukraine people who are suffering atrocities of Russia's invasion."
The resident has since made dozens more flags of various sizes. The largest is 4 feet by 6 feet, she said. She plans to add another 20 flags this coming Saturday, April 16, for people to take and display at their homes. People have come from Palo Alto, Redwood City and Mountain View, she said.
She started sewing the flags on Friday after returning from work and spent all day Saturday flag-making. She had blood blisters on her hands by the end of her sewing session, a small price compared to those suffering in Ukraine, she said.
Some people consider flags to be political statements, but the resident said she is "a nonpolitical person."
She and her family are not Ukrainian. The display didn't say anything about Russia or about Russian President Vladimir Putin, she said. She has been moved by the atrocities she has seen on television against the Ukrainian people. She hoped that passersby who see the flags will "pray for the safety of the people of Ukraine," she said.
The flags aren't perfectly sewn, she said. "No seamstress has to fear her day job from me."
But her 97-year-old mother, who as a young Irish girl fought in World War II, had a different opinion, the resident said.
Handmade flags, which came from the heart, are the very best kind, her mother told her.
During the war, people called homemade flags "war flags," which people made to show their support for the war effort, her mother said.
The vandalism has had one silver lining. She learned new things about her mother.
"From this evil thing came an opportunity to share and discuss her World War II experiences," the resident said.
Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent by text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984.