Friday, August 24, 2007

Family's home trashed in suspected hate crime
Vandals spray paint racial epithets on walls and steal wedding rings, car and cash from Brentwood house

BRENTWOOD -- Izear Golden got a special birthday present on Nov. 3 -- the keys to his Brentwood house. But on Wednesday, he came home to find that house trashed, and racial epithets spray painted across the walls in what police are calling a hate crime. It was the type of incident Golden said he moved his family from San Francisco to the suburbs seven years ago to avoid.

"It's like we got to the top of the mountain, and they want to kick us off," Golden said Thursday afternoon, as he surveyed the ransacked home with his mother, wife and three young children nearby.

Golden's wife, Sikwayi Golden, and mother, Dorothy Barbee, called police about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday to report a burglary at their two-story home in the 500 block of Douglas Drive in Brentwood's Deer Ridge neighborhood.

Police arrived to find the five-bedroom house in disarray. Couch cushions were slashed open and markings and racial epithets were written with black spray paint on the walls throughout the residence, said police spokesman Lt. Tom Hansen.

The graffiti included the phrase "get out," the word "goons" and a racial epithet. Family photographs, electronic equipment and cabinets also were spray painted.

The Golden family is black.

"They hit every room except the laundry room," said Barbee, who lives at the residence. "To do this, you have to have a lot of anger."

The family's gray 2007 Nissan Armada SUV, California license plate 5VWR339, was stolen from the home's driveway,
Hansen said.
Other items reported stolen include wedding rings and cash, Hansen said. Police estimate the total lost in theft and damages to be several thousand dollars.

The crime occurred between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., said Brentwood Police Chief Mark Evenson. Police are processing fingerprints found at the scene, he added. On Thursday afternoon, police were canvassing the neighborhood looking for witnesses and following up on reports of suspicious individuals in the neighborhood in the weeks and hours prior to the incident.

Evenson said the family had not received any prior threats and did not know who might have been involved. He said police believe it was an isolated incident.

Brentwood's Diversity Committee held a news conference Thursday afternoon, during which members categorically condemned the incident.

"We are truly a community of people who absolutely under no circumstances have tolerance for this issue," said committee co-chairwoman Kathy Frazier.

A local business has offered to repaint the home, and service clubs are paying for hotel accommodations for the family, Frazier said.

Golden said that although he wants to stay in his home and in the community, he also has to consider the safety of his wife and kids, ages 7, 10 and 13.

"I really do want to stay because it's been an uphill climb to get here," he said.

The Deer Ridge subdivision is made up of newer, two-story single-family homes. Neighbors said it's a diverse neighborhood, where, up to this point, nobody has felt threatened.
"I don't know what the devil is wrong with people who do stuff like that," said neighbor Chuck Andelin.

"There's no bloody need."

Down the street, Ricco Reed, whose younger siblings play with the Goldens' children, said the incident will make him and his family more cautious about their neighborhood. Reed said his family moved from Oakland nine months ago to get away from crime.

A handful of hate crimes have been reported in East Contra Costa in recent years. Brentwood reported one hate crime incident in 2006, as did neighboring Antioch, according to a report issued by the California Attorney General's office. Contra Costa County reported a total of 20 hate crimes in 2006. In 2005, Brentwood reported one hate crime.

On Aug. 12 the Islamic Center of the East Bay in Antioch was the target of an arson fire that gutted the building and caused an estimated $200,000 in damages. The mosque had been vandalized and broken into in three prior incidents this year. Police are still investigating that fire but have said they found no evidence to indicate the arson was religiously motivated.

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