Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Police investigate possible hate crime

Racial slurs painted on sign in Elkhorn

Express Staff Writer

Racial slurs were painted on a sign along Elkhorn Road last week, and the Sun Valley Police Department is investigating the incident as a possible "hate crime."

"We're not going to write it off as just a joke or a prank," Sun Valley Assistant Police Chief Mike Crawford said Monday. "It could fall under elements of the hate crime law in Idaho."

The racial slurs were discovered Thursday morning, painted on the Lane Ranch sign at the east front entrance. The words were quickly painted over, but not before several people called the Sun Valley Police Department to complain.

Idaho's "hate crime" law makes it a felony in the state to "intimidate or harass another person because of that person's race, color, religion, ancestry or national origin." The law, enacted in 2001 as Idaho Criminal Code statutes 18-7902 and 18-7903, provides a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Crawford said there have been a few other incidents in the area in the past few years of vandalism involving racial slurs.

"In the past it has been kids," he said.

Crawford said it's uncertain whether the Lane Ranch incident is related to vandalism discovered on Wednesday, June 27, at The Community School, where a sports storage shed was broken into, park benches were damaged and graffiti was written with chalk in the school parking lot. A damage estimate was not available Monday.

Express staff writer Jody Zarkos contributed to this report.

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