The family of Denise Madden, a receptionist at a local real estate firm, awoke this morning to find a notorious racial slur spray-painted onto one of their vehicles. The family is African-American.
"Both of our cars got spray painted over night," Madden told me this afternoon. "We don't do much—we go to work and come home, the kids go to school... It's horrible." The other car was painted with the word, "Poo."
They have a 17-year-old daughter, 12-year-old daughter, eight-year-old son, and newborn girl.
Madden's husband, who works at the Shoreline Goodwill and at Home Depot, went outside at about 7 a.m. this morning to take the kids to school. They were deeply distressed by what they saw. Her son pledged to protect the family. Her daughter took photos of the slur, and Madden posted them to a Facebook neighborhood group.
"Someone saying that word to you makes you feel like you need to protect yourself," Madden said. She has lived in Seattle for most of her life and said she has never felt threatened or demeaned for her race in this way before.
Madden said the kids went off to school and the parents went off to work. They haven't had time to file a police report—her husband called the SPD but was put on hold. He hung up when their baby started crying.
"We didn't really have a chance to talk much about it," Madden said. "As soon as we get a chance to talk the kids, that'll determine the extent of what we do next."
None of her neighbors were targeted, she said. Their next-door neighbor, an auto body specialist, has promised to come over tonight and clean the cars. Madden said she's lived in the home, near the QFC grocery store in Greenwood, for the past two years.
I asked Madden if she feels unsafe. She said she's going to talk to her landlord about installing extra locks.
Hate crimes have been on the rise in recent years in Washington state. These acts of racial intimidation occur regularly here in Seattle. I've previously written about a man wearing a neo-Nazi armband on the Seattle ferry and threats directed at local mosques.