Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Hate messages appear on homes, fences and mailboxes in Miami Gardens

A Miami Gardens home at 18010 NW 43rd Court was vandalized with hateful messages on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015.
A Miami Gardens home at 18010 NW 43rd Court was vandalized with hateful messages on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Hate messages — including swastikas and the phrases “KKK move out,” and “I’m back KKK” — appeared on homes, mailboxes and fences in Miami Gardens on Wednesday, leaving residents shaken and police on the lookout for the person or persons responsible.

“Prank or no prank we are going to be treating this very seriously,” said Miami Gardens Police Chief Stephen Johnson. “It is really unfortunate to see something like this.”

At least five vandalism reports came into police Wednesday, Johnson said. Most of the incidents happened around Northwest 43rd Court and 180th Street.

“It looks like whoever is doing it went on some sort of spree,” he said.

Among the reports: a home at 18010 NW 43rd Ct. The man renting the home did not want to be identified, but told Miami Herald news partner CBS4 that the area is relatively quiet.

“In a way we’ve been going through this for many years and sometimes you just have to ignore this stuff,” he told the station.

Homeowner Hattie Burmon told CBS4 that she came home from work just to paint over the offensive messages left on her fence.

“It’s hurtful because we work so hard trying to keep our things up and people come and try and do stuff like this. I mean, this is mean and hateful for somebody to do something like that,” Burmon said.

On Wednesday, the Anti-Defamation League spoke against the vandalism spree, asking law enforcement officials to investigate this as a “potential hate crime.’’

“We cannot let the haters take charge and keep us from going about our daily lives,” said Hava Holzhauer, ADL Florida regional director.

According to the ADL, this is the first such incident in South Florida this year. Last year there was a string of anti-Semitic incidents including the spray painting of swastikas on a temple.

Chief Johnson said police are treating the spree as a hate crime and have beefed up overnight patrol.

“This is not something you would expect to see in 2015,” Johnson said. “There is no place for hate in our city or anywhere else.”