Back in December, Latanza Douglas and her family—which includes her husband and three foster children—secured what they thought was their dream home in Delano, Minn. However, three months later, the family feels as if they have no choice but to leave town after their home was ransacked, burglarized and painted with racist graffiti.
According to the Star Tribune, vandals spray-painted racial slurs and swastikas on the inside and outside of the residence. “Get out” was spray-painted on an exterior wall. And perhaps even more frightening, the vandals left a threat: “Next time it’s going to be fire,” a note read.
Several electronic gaming systems were also stolen from the residence.
The crime occurred Sunday afternoon when the family was out.
Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Todd Hoffman said the slurs included racially offensive symbols that he refused to describe, adding that the case could be investigated by federal authorities if the vandalism can be classified as a hate crime.
However, the family isn’t hanging around town to see this mess through. They are packing up their multilevel home and are ready to move to another community, said Naresh Uppal, whose company, Advanced Home Inc., built the house Uppal’s company, will buy the home back from the Douglases as they work toward a new start.
“They are packing right now,” Uppal said Thursday afternoon. “They’re having to move and basically start all over again. Which is very, very sad. They weren’t even there for three months.
“It took me four, five months just the build that house just the way she wanted,” he told WCCO.
The family is planning to move into another home that Uppal’s company has bought, in a more diverse northwest metro suburb, which he declined to identify.
“This was supposed to be the last time we were going to move,” Douglas told WCCO. “If it was a burglary, that’s one thing. It happens everywhere. But when you have people judging you for other reasons that you can’t do anything about, that makes it even harder.”
However, Douglas is not willing to let her foster children—two of whom are black—suffer any more from the incident.
“These kids have traumas already. So now we’ve exposed them to another one, and it’s not a feeling of safety,” she said.
Uppal has started a GoFundMe campaign to help with the family’s moving expenses. As of Friday morning, the campaign has raised $20,201 of a desired $25,000 goal. The developer is also offering a $2,000 reward for any information that can help the Wright County Sheriff’s Office make an arrest.
The community is also standing behind the family, with Delano Mayor Dale Graunke saying, “It’s not what should happen here, or anywhere else.”
Graunke visited Douglas after the incident to let her know, “This is our community, we care, and this is not Delano what is happening.”
State Rep. Joe McDonald, who represents Delano, also issued a statement, noting: “Despicable acts such as this have no place in our society, much less in our very own backyard. It saddens me that bigoted vandalism is causing heartache and upheaval for the Douglas family.”