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Obama sign burned; hate crime or prank?

September 30, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
These days, you see a lot of presidential campaign signs in front yards. However, a sign in Altadena has been burned. Investigators are trying to figure out if it was a prank or, perhaps, a hate crime.Reginald Ingram, an Altadena resident, showed a sheriff's deputy the remains of a suspicious act on Tuesday. The Obama-Biden campaign sign, similar to many others on his block, had been moved by someone to a neighbor's lawn. Only the frame was visible, so it was hard to distinguish at first. However, he saw a tool that told him the act was deliberate.

"There is a cigarette lighter at the bottom of it. And you can see all the ash from where it had been torched," said Ingram.

Ingram is one of few African-Americans on Sonoma Drive. For the last seven years his front lawn has been the gathering site for a 4th of July parade and block party; a diverse event to celebrate freedom of speech, among other liberties.

"Contrast that with this kind of horrible scene that we woke up to this morning. Just the thought that somebody would torch a sign because we've expressed our support for Obama is deeply troubling," said Ingram.

Neighbors say signs have been targets before.

"I just find it hard to believe it. To light it on fire too is an added statement, as opposed to just taking it or whatever, which is the usual kind of vandalism type of thing," said neighbor Chris Considine.

"Our bureau in charge of possible hate crimes will see if they deem it a hate crime or not. If they do, then they would do the follow-up on that. And that comes from downtown," said L.A. County Sheriff's Deputy Lee Carter

"This is just a heartbeat away from somebody setting a cross, you know, burning in my front lawn. And it just conjures up all sorts of hateful memories," said Ingram.

The sheriff's department reports no other incidents in the Altadena area. It is unknown whether the incident was a prank or if someone was trying to send a more sinister message. Ingram and his neighbors hope this is the end of it.

 

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