Arlington police are searching for whoever painted a swastika and the "n-word" on businesses and signs early Tuesday.
The racist vandalism happened in an area near E. Arkansas and New York Avenue in East Arlington. Many of the businesses in the area are minority-owned.
Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson said Tuesday the case is being treated as a hate crime and officers are going through the area to search for any information or clues.
“It’s clear to me that it was a hate crime and it was biased-based symbols and words trying to prompt a community reaction, in which it has,” Johnson said.
One of the businesses tagged was a daycare center.
“Having to go into somewhere where they are supposed to feel safe and seeing this the first thing in the morning, it’s so sad,” said one woman, who asked to remain unnamed. “It’s nothing we’ve seen before. It’s truly the most upsetting thing we’ve seen in a long, long time. I don’t remember anything being so hurtful and so disgusting.”
Tiffany Jackson was cleaning out her car at one of the businesses hit when she saw the graffiti.
“Oh my god. I feel disrespected. I feel very disrespected,” she said. “Heartbroken. That’s crazy.”
The Arlington police chief believes the same person, or persons, is responsible for all of the graffiti and says detectives are canvassing the area searching for surveillance video and possible witnesses.
City workers spent the day removing the hateful words and symbols from public view.
Mayor Jeff Williams says more than 100 countries are represented by residents living in Arlington and is confident investigators will make an arrest.
“It’s like the United Nations if you go to the grocery store here in Arlington,” the mayor said. “We’ve become an international city, and we want unity in our community. And we want to respect each and every one of our citizens.”
Students at Sam Houston High School, about a block away, saw pictures of the hate speech circulating on social media before seeing it in person.
“I think it’s kind of racist, but it’s kind of childish too,” said student Kevin Vallejo.
The police chief say whoever is caught will be charged with criminal mischief, but prosecutors can enhance the charge to a hate crime. The FBI has also been notified.