Today’s headlines seem full of horrible crimes. Teenagers committing gruesome and senseless murders; a young California mother kidnapped off the street as she jogged, then branded by her captors and tortured for weeks; a young father in Georgia convicted of deliberately leaving his toddler son in a hot car to die.
Sometimes I just can’t stand to read the stories. But then came news of another crime – this one in Cincinnati, Ohio – and my attention was riveted. A hate crime with a heartwarming ending.
Joe and Pat Jude had been watching over their daughter’s house after a job promotion transferred her to Chicago. During the Thanksgiving weekend, as so many Americans do, Joe and Pat traveled to spend the holiday with their re-located daughter. It was a bittersweet reunion as it did not include the Jude’s youngest child, a son, who had committed suicide in 2010.
“He was treated very racist because he was a biracial young man,” Pat wrote on social media. “He was called the N-word, and other unacceptable terms by his fellow students and residents of the town. One of his teachers even called him stupid in front of the entire class.”
Joe and Pat, an inter-racial couple, say they have spent their 34 years of married life battling all sorts of bigotry. But what they faced when they returned from their Thanksgiving break was almost beyond belief.
Their daughter’s home, which they had tidied and readied for renters to move in, had been broken into, trashed in almost unbelievable ways. The walls had been spray painted with swastikas and phrases like “White Power” and “Die N*****s.” In what was obviously a premeditated attack, cement had been brought in and poured into the stove and down the bathtub’s drain, forced deep into the drain by a plunger.Walls and staircase railings had been kicked in. Water damage caused a ceiling to collapse. This was the house Joe and Pat planned to move into once they retired. But it hit them like a ton of bricks. This was not an accepting neighborhood.
Who would do such a terrible thing? At this writing, Cincinnati police say they have a ‘person of interest” who will certainly be charged with breaking and entering and maybe, according to Lt. Steve Saunders, “hate bias enhancements, if that can be demonstrated.”
Something tells me the writing on the walls of the home would be all the evidence police need for an additional hate crime charge.
Can you imagine the couple’s phone call to their daughter in Chicago to describe the damage?
After the sheer devastation of it all set in – Pat did what she had always done. She straightened her shoulders and vowed that racists would not control her family’s fate. She started a GoFundMe page to try to raise the $2,000 insurance deductible so they could try to undo what terrible hate had done to the home.
As I write this, citizens from all over the United States have pledged more than $63,000 to help the Jude’s. One young woman named Emma wrote, “I’m a poor college student and can’t afford much, but I hope this helps!” She donated $5. A woman who gave $50 dollars wrote, “I hope that by (my) giving you know that those hateful people are not what defines our country and that you are loved.” Another donation of $50 was accompanied by note from a man named Glenn that said, “Please keep your faith in humanity. There is more good than evil in the world. Be strong.”
Some of the more than 2,000 who responded wrote that they could not afford to give money but offered their labor, cleanup and painting expertise. One couple offered a gently used bathroom vanity. A neighbor wrote to say she had left cookies on their front porch.
The Jude’s tears of anguish have now turned to thankfulness. “The response has been overwhelming and so heartfelt,” Pat wrote in an update on her GoFundMe page.
“America has always been made up of beautiful multicultural people and if we all stand together we can show the small minority that makes up this group of people who hate those who don’t look like them, that they have no power here,” she wrote. And Pat concluded with an anthem I wish we could all take up – “We are strongest when we stand together!”
Those who blame acts of hate on the current political climate or a specific region of the country are misguided. History teaches us there has always been, and there will always be, those who cannot accept people who don’t look, talk or espouse ideas exactly like their own.
It is to those people I say – get out of the way. It is time for America to become one unified country again. A country that accepts all races, creeds, religions and schools of thought. If you think otherwise it is you who do not belong.