Vandalism on Tahmoor Khan's car praises the Ku Klux Klan. Two juveniles have been charged with spray-painting racist phrases on Khan's car, including multiple uses of the N-word. Credit: Courtesy of Tahmoor Khan

The Maine Attorney General’s office has accused two Bangor teenagers who allegedly covered a neighbor’s car last month with racist graffiti of committing a hate crime.

Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin is seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent the girls, both 15, from contacting the victim or being within 150 feet of his home or workplace.

The teens, who are not being named by the Bangor Daily News because they are juveniles, were charged by Bangor police with criminal mischief, a Class D crime, last month and released to their parents.

The girls allegedly vandalized Tahmoor Khan’s car on Aug. 20 with multiple uses of the N-word, including a call to kill all Black people. The phrase “KKK Supporter” and “KKK” were spray-painted on other parts of the car, an apparent reference to the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan.

Khan, 33, of Bangor is a first-generation Pakistani-American. His parents operated a restaurant in Bangor for many years.

Bangor police referred the case to the attorney general’s office.

One of the two girls was familiar with Khan’s family and his vehicle, according to the complaint the attorney general’s office has filed in Penobscot County Superior Court. On Aug. 27, a week after the alleged vandalism, the girl returned to Khan’s house and verbally harassed him.

For the attorney general’s office to seek an injunction there must be: physical force or violence against a person; the threat of physical force or violence against a person; damage or destruction to property; or, trespass on property which was motivated by bias.

Maine’s Civil Rights Act, passed in 1989, allows the attorney general’s office to seek a permanent restraining order against a person or persons who usually, but not always, have been charged with a crime motivated by bias. Those charges often involve assault, harassment or criminal mischief.

Once a restraining order has been granted, an individual who violates the order and has contact with the victim or victims can be charged with a Class D crime and be jailed up to a year and fined up to $2,000 if convicted.

Hate crimes have been on the rise in Maine and nationwide, according to data from the FBI. Law enforcement agencies reported 83 hate crimes in the state in 2020, more than quadruple the 19 reported in 2019 and more than had been reported in the previous three years combined.

Hate crimes against Black people and members of the LGBTQ community were most prevalent.