Oklahoma Democratic Party office defaced with racist graffiti
Racist and homophobic messages spray-painted on a building that is home to the Oklahoma Democratic Party were met with bipartisan condemnation and a group of volunteers who spent the afternoon washing away the hate-filled graffiti.
Discovered Thursday morning, the graffiti of swastikas and racial slurs is being investigated as a hate crime by Oklahoma City police. Graffiti was also found on a former office for the state Democratic Party and next to the building housing the state GOP.
"It is very unfortunate and disheartening, and a clear indicator of how divided our country has become under President Trump's leadership," said Anna Langthorn, executive director of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, the apparent target of the graffiti and one of several tenants of the building at 3700 N Classen Boulevard.
But political division appeared to take a respite throughout the day as members of both parties rebuked the incident.
“This has got to stop. This is not what our country is about,” said Oklahoma Republican Party Chairwoman Pam Pollard, who had tears in her eyes as she spoke just outside the Democratic headquarters.
“This is disgusting behavior.”
Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, called the incident “abhorrent.”
"There's just no need for any kind of hate groups in our state, and we condemn that type of stuff. It's silly. I hope that we find the perpetrators and they're punished."
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The messages were spray-painted on the building doors, the walkway and parking lot.
One message read “White planet only. Gas the rest.”
A note left on the building door promoted Trump’s 2020 re-election and had a photo of former President Barack Obama with what appeared to be blood on his face.
The second site for graffiti, 4001 N Lincoln Boulevard, houses the Oklahoma City-area office of the Chickasaw Nation and is next to the building where the Oklahoma Republican Party has its offices.
“The investigator says there’s the same type of verbiage and the same type of paint that is used and the swastikas that were used on both locations,” Capt. Bo Mathews said. “So, it does appear that they would be the same person that was doing it.”
Police released photos Thursday afternoon taken from a surveillance camera at the Chickasaw Nation building of a woman wanted for questioning in connection with the graffiti at both sites.
“It’s definitely a hate crime,” Mathews said. “The verbiage that was used and the threatening manner and the things that they were saying, it makes it a hate crime. It falls right under the state statute.”
Volunteers gathered at the Classen building to use brushes and a power washer to clean the sidewalk. One of the building’s tenants hung a sign on a second-floor window that read “Love will prevail.”
“We definitely know what hate looks like,” said Imad Enchassi, senior imam at the Islamic Society Of Greater Oklahoma City, who joined in the cleanup effort.
“But at the same time this is what love looks like — the people who are cleaning this. Despite all the hate, love always wins.”
Former Gov. David Walters owns the building and said more security cameras may be added.
Other tenants include Oklahoma Juvenile Affairs and the Boys and Girls Club of Oklahoma County.
"The people who work and enter that building every day are hardworking individuals,” said Rep. Cyndi Munson, whose district includes the building.
“I know Oklahomans can rise above the rhetoric in our national politics, instead of spreading messages of hate, we need to embrace each other as Oklahomans first."
The Rev. T. Sheri Dickerson, executive director of Black Lives Matter OKC, was also at the building Thursday to help wash the paint off the sidewalk.
At one point she knelt on the concrete walkway and began to scrub away a giant swastika that had been painted in blue paint.
“It is disheartening to see the surge of white supremacy and hatred in our state,” Dickerson said. “And I hope that all those who stand against these forms of hatred will rise and raise their voices to dismantle these systems.”
Staff writer Dale Denwalt contributed to this story.
Robert Medley has been a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1989, covering various news beats in the Oklahoma City metro area and in the Norman news bureau. He has been part of the breaking news team since 2008. A 1987 University of Oklahoma... Read more ›
Ben Felder is an investigative reporter for The Oklahoman. A native of Kansas City, Ben has lived in Oklahoma City since 2010 and covered politics, education and local government for the Oklahoma Gazette before joining The Oklahoman in 2016.... Read more ›