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Nationwide Racial Tensions Appear Locally

Nov 15, 2016 08:42PM ● Published by Steven Jack

These swastikas were found scrawled into the driveway of a Springdale Road couple on Sunday. Swastikas were also found all along their block.

The racial tensions that have been boiling over all across the country since the election of Tuesday, Nov. 8, are hitting close to home for one local family.

John and Sara Johnson (not their real names) have lived in relative peace on Springdale Road in Boulder Hill for four years. On Sunday morning the interracial couple of 10 years awoke to find swastikas written in chalk on their driveway and along their sidewalk.

“Sara had gone to the grocery store, and I was just getting out of the shower and saw her standing in the driveway with a police officer,” John said. “I was horrified when I found out what happened.”

John and Sara’s neighbors also were taken aback by the graffiti, which was drawn up and down the block. It was neighbors who originally called police, John said.

According to Kendall County Deputy Michael Mrozek, the sheriff’s office did investigate the swastikas, but deemed the graffiti to likely be the work of kids, as it was written in chalk.

“After speaking with neighbors this was determined to be probably kids,” Mrozek said. “This didn’t appear to be anything criminal.”

Turns out the graffiti was not the end of the problem. John said when he returned home from work on Monday, he was greeted by someone calling out the n-word as he made his way from his car to his front door. That prompted John to install four security cameras around the outside of his home on Tuesday.

“We don’t know who did the graffiti, but it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that it was the same person who yelled that at me,” John said.

John’s parents are also an interracial couple. He said he's used to dealing with issues of race from “time to time.” He pinned these latest incidents on tensions that have arisen since last week’s election.

“I think the rhetoric has emboldened people,” he said. “Racial tensions are high, and it’s not just white people. It’s black people, too. ... It’s just sad and scary.”

In School District 308, Superintendent John Sparlin has sought to attack recent tensions head on. While not directly referencing the election, Sparlin released a letter on Friday that was read at schools that called for unity and asked students to respect diversity.  

“Today, I urge you to be kind, caring and supportive of one another,” Sparlin wrote “And while there are times we may feel conflicted about what is going on in the world around us, it’s imperative that we keep in mind and understand one thing: we cannot let the things we have no control over define us as individuals, as schools, as a district, or as a community.”

For their part, the Johnsons said they aren’t letting the incidents of the past few days drive them from their community. John said they are planning a chalk party for an upcoming weekend. Neighbors will be invited to draw messages of hope, equality and unity all around the neighborhood, he said.

“Sara’s co-worker already brought us a bunch of chalk, and we’re planning on getting a bunch more,” he said. “We want to show them we won’t let this happen here.”
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