Racist graffiti found at Palo Alto park as hate crimes rise statewide

Palo Alto police are investigating a case of racist graffiti at a city park. This latest incident comes among an alarming rise the number of hate crimes reported statewide.

The incident occurred Thursday night at Eleanor Pardee Park in the city’s Crescent Park neighborhood. Palo Alto police said they received a call that a play structure had been vandalized by graffiti with racial epithets directed at the Black community.

City crews quickly cleaned up the graffiti, but the news of the incident was unsettling to residents. The park is known as a quiet place for kids to play and for adults to get some exercise.

"I have not seen that graffiti personally, but it definitely is concerning," said resident Stephi Kazmarier.

Long-term Palo Alto resident Jim Girand expressed similar concern.

"It is just really disgusting and makes a person really upset that this can happen," Girande said. He also expressed his appreciation that the city acted so quickly to clean up the graffiti.

According to a report released this week by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, the number of hate crimes reported statewide is up 32% between 2020 and 2021. Anti-Asian bias had the biggest jump at 177%, anti-Hispanic bias was up 30% and anti-Black bias was up nearly 13%.

"It is one of hurt, of disappointment, of frustration," said LaDoris Hazzard Cordell, in reaction to the graffiti. "The motive is quite clear to me. The motive is hate."

Hazzard Cordell is a long-time Palo Alto resident, as well as a retired Superior Court judge and author of the book "Her Honor."

"It just saddens me," Hazzard Cordell continued. "I mean, African Americans, we are only 1.8% of the population of this city, and yet there are individuals who think it is really important for them to come to this city and to express their hate in this fashion."

Attorney General Rob Bonta recently announced a statewide hate crime coordinator, who will be the point person between the California Department of Justice and local law enforcement to assist with the reporting and prosecution of these crimes.

In San Francisco’s Chinatown neighborhood, Assemblyman Matt Haney vowed the state will do all it can to stop such hate.

"We are here because no one in our city, no one in our state, should ever be attacked, should ever live in fear, because of who they are," Haney said on Friday.