A rally was held in Concord today in reaction to racist graffiti discovered last weekend on the home of Somali refugees in the city’s South End. The crime is being linked to last September’s unsolved incident when three homes were targeted in the same neighborhood.
By noon, about a hundred people had gathered on Thompson street in Concord’s South End.
Ten minutes later, the number had doubled.
Supporters in yellow mingled and shook hands while neighborhood kids sat in the shade banging African drums. The crowd seemed to have one thing in common: a strong reaction to the racist graffiti.
“…appalled…” “…horrified…” “devastated and appalled…” “Well I was thoroughly disgusted…” “I was absolutely disgusted that it happened…”
That last voice belongs to Governor John Lynch – who later stood on the victim’s doorstep and talked to the crowd.
“When they find this person who did, or these people who did it, I hope they’re prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law (applause)”
September’s incidents remain unsolved - and this year’s rally placed a stronger emphasis on catching the perpetrators than last.
Still, the spirit of the day was clear when one of the victims, who asked not to be indentified, interrupted a speech by Concord Police Chief John Duval to hand him a cold bottle of water.
“We gather to send another message, a very public message in broad daylight for everyone to see. Unlike this cowardice act, the message this gathering represents is that we are unified. (laughter and applause)… see? Thanks you very much… very timely.
The rally was organized by New American Africans – a group working to better connect immigrant families and their communities. Honore Murenzi is their founder and director
“The problem, the problem is, even if he’s one, but no one knows if he’s one or two or five. Buy anyway, when you sow a bad see, it’s easy to spread, so what tomorrow, is the question?”
Murenzi says the community has done all that it can by bringing people together. He says, now it’s up to law enforcement, who are continuing to look for links between this crime, and those of September’s.
"We suspect that they’re may be a connection… the manner in which the messages were delivered, the style, the types of words… we don’t know for sure right now. Certainly we’re looking for anybody who might have information in the community to reach out to us.”
On the vandalized home, the graffiti is gone. Police took that section of vinyl siding for further analysis.
Now a large “Love Your Neighbor” banner signed by dozens of community members spans from window to window.
For members of the neighborhood willing to show unity and support face-to-face, it’s a symbol much more powerful than the hateful words of an anonymous criminal.