Police Investigate Hate Crime Against African-American Resident

KKK BlurredSmithfield Police are investigating a hate crime against a 35 year-old African-American citizen.

Hours after the June 24th Vigil for Charleston was held in Smithfield, an event attended by 150 community members,  a citizen on Kay Drive in the Johnson Court Apartment complex reported someone had spray painted “N****r” and “KKK” on the side of her vehicle.  Smithfield Police Captain R.K. Powell confirmed today the incident is being investigated as a hate crime. 

In an unrelated incident, Smithfield Police were asked to remove a half dozen teenagers from the parking lot of Wal-Mart on Sunday night. The teens had apparently gathered in their vehicles and were displaying Confederate flags. Captain Powell said police have an agreement with Wal-Mart who have ask officers to patrol their parking lot and remove any loiters.  “The teens were asked to leave and there were no issues,” Captain Powell said.  Powell said the incident had nothing to do with Confederate flags, just loitering.

However, Smithfield Town Councilman Marlon Lee, who represents the East Smithfield District, said the teens were in the Wal-Mart parking lot trying to “intimidate” others with the Confederate flags. Lee said the teens were revving their engines and pointing to the flags as others drove past.   

As for the incident on Kay Drive, Councilman Lee said police have a “serious person of interest they are looking into.” 

In response to the two incidents, several community leaders led by Smithfield Mayor John Lampe held a conference call with area clergy and the NAACP this week. The group agreed these types of actions would not be tolerated, Councilman Lee said.  

“After the vigil last week, we want to keep things together,” Councilman Lee told WTSB News on Wednesday, “and not let that shooting cause a racial war, but for us to come a little closer.”  

Anyone with information about the Kay Drive incident is asked to contact the Smithfield Police Tip Line at 919-989-8835.  Because the crime has been classified as a hate crime, the charges are upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony.