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Local Residents Victims Of Hate Crime - Surprised By Their Community's Fast Response

The Phillips family, from Garfield Avenue in Tenino, Washington, were stunned to hear that their home had been vandalized while they were vacationing in the mountains. The vandal (or vandals) targeted three sides of the family home as well as the Phillips’ truck. Officers from the Tenino Police Department are investigating the incident and at this stage, it is believed that the responsible party vandalized the home in the early hours of Friday morning.

The next day, the Phillips’ neighbors woke up to see that the family home had been defaced with spray-painted messages. In a news feature, one of the neighbors, Heidi Russel, told reporters from KHOU: “There was spray paint, racial slurs, the N-word, three lovely letters that we don’t like [KKK],” admitting that “It really made me want to cry when I first saw it, not going to lie – it was terrible.”

However, the determined neighborhood in Tenino was not going to stand the attack on their community. "Our biggest concern was getting this done before the family came home because they have small children and we didn't want them to see their truck or their home vandalized," emphasized Ms. Russel. However, with a little help and faith in her own neighbors, Ms. Russel was able to come up with a remarkable way to help the Phillips family.

While the Phillips family unknowingly enjoyed their mountaineering and hiking vacation, Ms. Russel contacted several other families in the area, telling them about the hate crime. The community response was phenomenal - dozens of families travelled to the Phillips family home, armed with paint brushes and other cleaning materials.

Rather than divide the town of Tenino, the detestable crime has truly brought the community together, replacing hate with love. Even Officer Wilson, Tenino’s on-duty police officer, stopped by to pick up a paint brush, telling KHOU: "I'm here to protect and serve. It aggravates me when this happens. I'm here to make it right."

Mike Vanderhoof, a firefighter at the Thurston County Fire District 12, also took part in the heartwarming repair job, telling KOMO News: "It’s too cruddy of a world to have this kind of stuff happen in your own community and not do something about it. Main thing is we wanted to make sure the family didn’t see this. Nobody see this kind of junk in their life. Nobody needs that kind of hate speech." A family friend of the Phillips, Misty Dell, was equally outraged, saying: "This is a town. We’re a family. And to know that this could happen to somebody here is just devastating. They don’t deserve it."

After hours of scrubbing, the team of volunteers successfully erased the hateful messages. However, the community workforce wasn’t done yet – applying primer and a fresh coat of paint to the family home.

Rather than come back to a vandalized home, the Phillips family returned to an amazing show of community support, with Marvin Phillips saying: "I'm overwhelmed and I'm shocked. When I heard what happened, I was hurt. I don't know who did this. I was more concerned about the kids."

Source: KHOU, KOMO News
Photo: KHOU

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