I have resisted writing this diary until it dawned on me that I simply did not want to relive these events. Today I bite the bullet and write, although I am still reluctant. But crazies have been given permission by the Palins and Becks of the world to hate with fervor and to act out their hate. We should all remember to be careful out there.
I have lived in a Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) senior building in Chicago for almost the past year. Early on in my time in this building I had to ask a certain guy to stop talking his racism to me, that just because I was white he could not assume I agreed with him. He has not spoken to me since, until December 12, during our building meeting.
At the meeting, another person and I stood to address overt racism in the building, and that we should celebrate our differences instead of fighting them. (This guy even hated the Asian food smells, while I wondered how I could get invited to dinner.)
He got up and shouted "If you have anything to say to me, say it to my face." So I did. I told him he was a racist. (I wonder now why he thought I was speaking about him.) Quite a bit of discussion ensued but no accord was reached. December 12th was a Friday.
The following Monday morning I found a swastika drawn on my door.
Since I'm a Jew this was reported as a hate crime. Of course, no one has been identified as the actual culprit because like most cowards, he or someone he influenced, did this in the dead of night. I should add that he harassed me during the last campaign because I held phone banks for the Democrats inside my apartment. He really hated that.
This is an excerpt of the letter I wrote to the CHA and to the management company.
I woke up this morning to a swastika drawn on my apartment door. I am Jewish.
This was reported to the property manager, who promptly called the police.
We don't know for certain who placed it on my door. Of course, I have my suspicions. I am still in shock. I do not feel comfortable in my own home. What happens next? Physical attack? An attempt on my life?
The property manager was wonderful in helping me with this. But I think everyone should be apprised of this because she may be the next one attacked. This could happen to anyone here who is black, Jewish, Hispanic, or Korean.
I spoke up at a building meeting last Friday about racism, and this is the Monday result. There are many different cultures living in this building - we should be celebrating our differences, not attacking them.
The CHA scheduled a Town Hall meeting the following week. While the CHA person spoke eloquently during the town hall meeting, neither she nor the representative of the management company told me directly that they were sorry this happened to me.
I was very satisfied with the local staff of the building but not terribly impressed with the building management representative that attended. In fact, the representative said she hated to come out for "petty" things.
They've known about this guy and his other actions for some time. He's still sitting at the security desk in the front of the building. (Some tenants get a reduction in their rent for acting as door security for 10 hours a week.) He's been suspended from time to time but threatens to sue because he says they don't want him on the desk because he's gay. (I never met a gay man who was so bigoted.)
Racism, hatred, bigotry are all organic. When it is fed continuously it will grow, just like some warped plant. That's what a few of the tenants do, sit around and feed the flames. A couple of rumors during all this was that I put it on my door myself. No one ever said why a Jew would do that, but I can guess where this rumor originated.
While no one has been identified as the culprit, the place is quieting down a bit since the town hall meeting. Three different parts of the Chicago Police investigated. One detective told me that if I pursued this by his interviewing people, the people who did this might do something worse to me. Another came out to give a presentation about hate crimes and their penalties.
My door had to be professionally sanded and re-varnished and I understand I'll get a totally new door. It took a long time to get it sanded properly; I was pretty upset about that. The first time they sanded it didn't remove it entirely. And I so wanted it off.
So they get away with it. They can sneak and draw a swastika on my door and get away with it. No one is willing to speak up even if they knew anything, well, except for just a few of us. This incident and others like it are ugly and messy, with no easy solutions.
I understand that the CHA may be planning some diversity seminars here, but that's it. Unless something else happens, that's it. I am not moving. I am here and I intend to stay.
After I cried from your comments, I had to update this with a heartfelt thank you to everyone for their support and good feelings.
Deoliver urged me to document this series of events on DailyKos. She said we should document all acts like this to keep a record. So I, in turn, urge all of you to document as well.
Thank you again so very much for your caring and support.