As the country continues its fight to end racism, one family in Richlands never thought it would hit so close to home until they came upon a horrific sight in their front yard on Wednesday.
Someone had taken a lawnmower and cut a Nazi-style swastika into the grass.
Richlands native Tapresha Cummings said her grandparents lived in the house before Hurricane Florence and had to move after the storm damaged the property. Currently, no one lives in the home located at 6971 Gum Branch Road.
“My Nana and Papa raised me in that home and just to know that someone took the time out of their day to do this, that is hurtful,” said Cummings. “Racism has never went away but it is very prevalent right now.”
The matter is not being taken lightly as trespassing, destruction of property and hate crime laws are now being questioned by several local organizations.
Officials with the Onslow County NAACP Branch shared Cumming’s original Facebook post of the incident. Through their own post, they claim a witness saw the alleged perpetrator driving a lawnmower from the area where the swastika was placed, back over to a house near the property.
Cummings added the lawnmower tracks can also be seen going in the same direction of the houses in question.
The Daily News has attempted to reach out to the branch for further comment but also spoke with Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller regarding the incident. Miller did not comment on any possible leads but that a detective is following up from the initial report taken on Wednesday.
“We are going to find out who is behind this. Obviously this is a criminal offense and we want the family to know that we are on it,” added Miller. “It is unacceptable and this type of hate will not be tolerated.”
One of the hardest things to take away from this was not only did Cummings have to come to terms with the current display of racism, but how she had to explain to her daughters as to why this happened.
Before the incident, Cummings preached the words of treating people how you want to be treated, while having a firm belief in karma. Her beliefs resonate louder today so that moving forward, her daughters will be able to know the differences between right and wrong as it may not be you that is affected but it could be someone you love.
These were the same words of advice she would want those responsible to know.
“You wouldn’t want someone coming up to your house and mowing black lives matter into your yard or destroying your property. I want them to remember that the next time they think about doing something to hurt someone else,” said Cummings.
For their own safety, the family plans to add no trespassing signs and a security system around the house. Several local landscaping companies have also reached out to fix the family’s yard free of charge.
District Attorney Ernie Lee added a hate crime in Onslow is labeled as the offense of someone’s race, color, religion, nationality or country of origin and is classified as a misdemeanor if a person is found guilty for assaulting another person, damaging property of another, defacing the property of another or threatens to do so.