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Hate speech spray-painted on 2 OC buildings

January 12, 2011 5:34:03 PM PST
Messages of hate were spray-painted on Orange County buildings twice in two days. Both incidents are being investigated as hate crimes.The messages, in one case involving race, the other religion, appeared on a government building in Santa Ana and a church in Anaheim.

Graffiti was removed from the church wall.

Spray-painted on concrete were racial epithets: the "N" word and other scrawls, threatening to kill Asians and African-Americans.

"Derogatory comments, wording, offensive graffiti. We tend to remove it within 24 hours or even sooner," said Kris Beard, Orange County Community Resources.

The vandalism was discovered by an employee at the entrance to the Orange County Housing Authority in Santa Ana. The offices deal with low-income housing issues. Police are investigating to see if the threats target workers.

"Often there's disputes and angry customers that leave the location. A majority of the employees are either Asian or African-American ," said Santa Ana Police Corporal Anthony Bertagna.

Authorities believe it happened between 5:30 p.m. Monday and 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.

"I just felt really sad that in this day and age we are still having hate crime in our community," said Anaheim resident Leena Johnson.

Several miles away at St. Boniface Roman Catholic Church in Anaheim, another hateful message was spray-painted on the wall. That was also discovered Tuesday.

Police are looking at surveillance video to identify the person driving a white minivan into the church parking lot around 3 a.m. Tuesday. The suspect is seen getting out and heading to the area where the vandalism happened. Minutes later he or she returned to the vehicle and leaves.

"It's extremely disturbing. Any time we get anything that's considered a potential hate crime, the police department takes it very seriously," said Anaheim Police Sgt. Eric Trapp.

Authorities are trying to determine if the two cases are related.

"Some of the writing looks similar. The letters look similar. Our folks will talk with their folks to see if there's some kind of connection," said Bertagna.

"I don't want to think about it. Now it's past us but things like this shouldn't happen," said Anaheim resident Michael Hernandez.

"I prayed for the person that took the time out of their day to scrawl that on our church," said Anaheim resident Leena Johnson.

If you have information related to the investigation, you're asked to call Santa Ana Police at (714) 745-8400, or Anaheim Police at (714) 765-1900.