A Clio, Mich., activist woke up Tuesday morning to find his vehicle horribly vandalized.
The Detroit Free Press reports that Hubert Roberts, a Black Lives Matter activist, was planning some community outreach as usual and hoping to take two boys to get haircuts when those plans were abruptly canceled as he walked out to his truck.
His black 2011 Chevrolet Silverado had been spray-painted with swastikas. The word “Nigger” was spray-painted on one side of the vehicle, and “Wite Pride” was painted on the other side. (I just want to know how you’re beating your chest about white superiority and white pride, but can’t even spell “white,” but whatever.) The truck’s tires were slashed.
Roberts also said that red shoelaces were hung from both of his rearview mirrors, a tactic that the Ku Klux Klan often used for intimidation and initiation.
“I’m black,” he added, according to MLive. “I’m in a predominantly white community. I’m very angry. I’m disappointed with us as a community.”
Roberts told the Free Press that the incident left him in disbelief. That disbelief turned into anger and then, ultimately, disappointment, he said. The activist, who also volunteers in Flint, Mich., told the Free Press that he could not think of any recent encounters that could have prompted someone to vandalize his vehicle, other than his normal confrontations while he was protesting, which often come with people spitting on him and hurling slurs his way.
His truck also had decals that read “Black Lives Matter” and “Black Panthers.”
“I’m just really disappointed in human beings, how we just want to continue to devalue each other,” Roberts told ABC 12. “We don’t bother anybody, we don’t hurt anybody, we’re not looking for trouble, just looking to be valued and treated equally, and so [that’s] what’s going through my mind. I’m hurt. I’m very disappointed.”
“I don’t want to sound like a victim,” he told MLive. “I would really hope this could be picked up by the national media because this is another example of hatred toward a person for nothing more than being black.”
Roberts’ stepdaughter, Jiquanda Johnson, the founder and publisher of the Flint Beat, an online news outlet, posted the images Roberts shared with her, expressing her outrage. From there, the photos rapidly circulated.
The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office is looking into the vandalism, with the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations also stepping in and offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
However, sheriff’s deputies were unable to dust for prints on the truck because rain fell overnight.
Still, Roberts said that if the vandals are found, he wants this to be a teaching moment and to give them a chance to help pay for the damage to the truck. And if intimidation was the vandals’ intention, well, they failed sorely on that score, he said.
“I’m committed to dying for what’s right,” Roberts told MLive, addressing the perpetrators. “I would ask them, ‘Let’s talk to one another. You don’t have to be a coward and do something like this to my home.’”