AUSTIN, Texas - Last month, Esha Rajendran went to work at her Northwest Austin equal rights law firm, but when she walked to her car, she found a racist flier.
“There was islamophobic ranting in there, and anti-immigration stuff. I didn't pay a lot of attention to it because people leave stuff on cars all the time. I just threw it away and didn't think about it,” said Rajendran.
But it happened again.
“The next work day I came to my car after work and noticed another one of the front of my car. Esha, who is Indian-American, says the second flier, which Fox 7 Austin has chosen not to show, has a graphic image of a woman being raped in Pakistan and an anti-immigration message.
“I went ahead and filed something with the Austin Police Department,” said Rajendran.
Austin police say right now, the case is not classified as a hate crime, but harassment. However, Esha and her co-worker, Holt Lackey feel hate inspired this.
“When you're singling out a young woman in the parking lot because of her South Asian origins and you have assumptions that brown skin means Islam and Islam means evil, and you leave a harassing nasty violent flyer on only her car, I think that's an act of harassment, intimidation, and stalking. It’s act of hate rather than act of speech,” said Lackey.
So far in 2018, there have been eight hate crimes, in 2017 there were 17 in Austin. Police say to help combat the issue, they have district reps who focus on engagement.
“The DR's go out in the community and work not only to help improve relations with the police department and community, but also among the community itself,” said Lt. Daniel Watson, Austin Police Department.
For now, the fliers have stopped, but Esha hopes anyone else who experiences this, can speak out.
“To target people because of the color of their skin or what they look like, that's just never right,” said Rajendran.