Racist message left on vehicles
Stickers not illegal, authorities say
Kathi Hillyer had an unwelcome shock when she returned to her vehicle in a parking lot at 2454 U.S. Highway 6&50, near Pier 1 Imports. Tucked underneath her windshield wiper blade was a sticker with racist speech and identifying information for a group in Harrison, Ark.
“Believe me, if I would have caught that man or woman, I would have broken their fingers,” Hillyer said of whoever distributed the items around noon Tuesday.
Hillyer said she gathered about 20 of the stickers after she watched other vehicle owners discard them in disgust. Hillyer took the stickers to the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department “so nobody else had to read them,” she said.
The person she gave the stickers to at the Sheriff’s Department said the department had received reports of the racist literature, including leaflets placed on vehicles at Mesa Mall.
One of the three phrases on the stickers that Hillyer pick up said: “Only inferior white women date outside their race.” Another similar statement was laced with profanity. The stickers have yellow lettering over a black background, Hillyer said.
Hillyer, of Fruita, is American Indian and Irish. She said she called a phone number listed on the sticker and told a woman who answered the phone about her displeasure. The woman replied that the statements were covered under First Amendment rights of freedom of speech.
Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Heather Benjamin said she couldn’t pinpoint any related reports of the racist literature being received at the department.
Someone placing fliers on vehicles or distributing them to passersby cannot be held criminally liable for harassment unless the literature is specifically directed at someone. However, if a similar incident occurs on private property, its owners can bring forth a civil complaint for trespassing. A person could be cited with littering if he or she were seen throwing materials on the ground.
Benjamin said the incident probably wouldn’t be recorded in a police report because it’s not against the law.
“We deal with offensive incidents all the time. That doesn’t make it illegal,” she said. “We have a lot of emergency needs that take priority over something that is not illegal. (Deputies’) time is so precious already.”
Hillyer said she grew up in the 1960s and has never been comfortable with racism. She said the incident Tuesday was one of three locally she could remember or had heard about regarding racist displays.
“That ain’t right. It’s ignorant,” Hillyer said of the hate speech. “None of us are pure-blood anything.”