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Sometimes the obvious point still needs to be said out loud. The racist graffiti spray-painted on a Bangor man’s car last week was despicable and should be denounced strongly by this community.
“It’s egregious. It’s disgusting,” Tahmoor Khan, 33, told the BDN on Monday. “It’s just downright heinous for them to come into my driveway, into my home, and write these kinds of words.”
Khan has said it better than we could. This is no way to treat someone who, together with their family, has spent three decades as part of the Bangor community. This would be no way to treat someone who just arrived in this community. This is just plain wrong.
The perpetrators spray-painted the N-word numerous times on Khan’s car. The graffiti included a call to kill all Black people, along with an apparent phrase, “KKK Supporter.” Khan is first generation Pakistani-American.
“At the end of the day, I think it’s just because I’m a brown person and they felt like they needed to target somebody,” Khan said. “And they did.”
Bangor police detained two 15-year-old girls shortly afterward, and they were issued summons for criminal mischief and released into the custody of a parent. Police have also reported the vandalism to the Maine attorney general’s office as a possible hate crime.
We’ve already seen a sentiment floating around online dismissing this as kids acting immaturely. The age of the alleged perpetrators is worth considering, but it doesn’t change the nature of the underlying act. This is racism. This is hate. This is unacceptable.
The Bangor City Council spoke out against this vandalism Sunday.
“We, the members of the Bangor City Council, categorically condemn this incident and want to make clear this is not representative of our community. Silence by those in positions of authority only emboldens those that seek to divide,” councilors said in a statement. They also pointed to a column they wrote in the BDN earlier this summer, where they responded to reports that white nationalists might be considering a move to the Bangor area.
“The only thing not welcome here is hate,” the councilors said at the time.
Many people’s first response to this vandalism might be to say, “This is not who we are.” Clearly, it is who some of us are. But everyone has the agency — and we’d suggest, the personal responsibility — to decide not to be hateful. To choose kindness and acceptance. To decide to be better. This was basically Khan’s message to the alleged culprits.
“Be better as individuals,” he said. “Be better as human beings.”
Be like the people at Darkside Mobile Auto Detailing in Hermon, who offered to remove the spray paint from Khan’s car for free. Be like Khan’s neighbor Kyle Prim, who saw two people spray painting Khan’s car and shined his phone flashlight on them, causing them to flee. And be like the Khans.
“They’re probably one of the best neighbors I’ve ever had,” Prim, 23, said about Khan and his family. “I feel so bad for them because they didn’t deserve that.”
Nobody deserves that. And everybody should be speaking out against hate. Bangor needs to keep learning and keep proving that it is better than this.
“There are a few bad actors,” Khan said. “But you are also going to find the good in people, people’s beautiful souls.”
It’s frankly amazing that he could keep this hopeful perspective after being the victim of such a hateful act. Let’s all do our part to prove him right.