Tenino community cleans up racist graffiti on family's home

TENINO, Wash. – Police are looking for whoever is responsible for leaving racist graffiti covering a Tenino home.

Police report the vandalism occurred sometime between Thursday night and Friday morning, but it only took the community a few hours after learning about it to clean it up.

The Phillips family was out of town when they got the call that their home and truck were left covered in racist words described by community members as pure hate.

“This is the first time I came out here to look at this,” said Marvin Phillips as he took in the smell of fresh paint on the outside of his home.

Hours earlier it still had graffiti scrawled across the sides of his home.

“I was told it was graffiti and nobody wanted to say what it really was,” said Phillips. “They finally said, ‘Marvin, it was the n-word and KKK, stuff like that.’”

Officer Susie Wilson with Tenino Police Department called Phillips to tell him what had happened. “I was very angry, I was embarrassed, I was sad, I was very frustrated,” she said. “This is my town, my community, this is where I patrol.”

The conversation could have ended with Phillips and Wilson, but it didn’t.

“It was like I had to fix it,” said Heidi Russell. Wilson runs the football team that Phillip’s son is a participant in the Tenino Beavers Youth Football & Cheer.

His teammates and others the family did not know, rallied Saturday morning to clean and repair the damage, before the Phillips got home.

“We had to make sure that truck did not look like that, because that’s the truck that takes his son to practice three nights a week,” said Russell.

Russell said a team of 50 volunteers worked over the course of four hours to clean, paint and scrub the home and vehicle.

“Our mayor was doing it, our police officer Susie was doing it,” explained Russell. They erased the hate.

“I would say love conquered this hate and we need a little bit more in this world,” said Russell.

Phillips said his faith in the community is restored. “I don’t think what happened to me exemplified what’s going on in Tenino, I think the outcome of it shows what’s happening in Tenino.”

Police said the damage amounts to a felony hate crime. Anyone with information is urged to contact police.