Vandalism case classified a hate crime

The vandalism Monday of a man's car is being classified as a hate crime by investigators.

The victim, an openly gay man who wished to remain anonymous, said he was targeted because of his sexual orientation. During the night, in front of the southeast Carson home he shares with his partner, paint and paint remover were poured onto his car. A note attacking the man's homosexuality was discovered in the front seat.

"It was such a cowardly thing to do," the man said. "It reflects the worst aspects of society."

The vandalism caused $1,200 to fix at an area body shop. Signs of the damage still remain. The note was slipped through an open window. In neat penmanship, the author called the man and his partner "perverts" followed by expletives and other name calling.

Aside from the vandalism, the couple have been pleased with the way they were received since moving here from Portland, Ore., several months ago. Monday's incident has implanted doubts about whether it is safe to be a gay man in suburban Nevada.

"The officer suggested I take the sticker (a rainbow that signifies homosexuality) off the car," he said. "It's the hardest thing I have had to do since I moved here."

The man said he and his partner came to Carson City with the hope of living in harmony in a town without much cultural and lifestyle diversity. They have met neighbors on both sides and across the street and say the neighbors are nice people who were appalled when they learned what happened.

Hate-motivated crimes are rarely reported in Carson City. In 1999 there were none reported in the county, with just 74 reported statewide. In 1998 there were 56 hate crime reports statewide, and in 1997, 43 cases were reported.


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