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The Wall

Volunteers paint over renewed hated messages — Police hope to catch hateful message makers

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Rodrigo Tojo Garcia of New Ulm spray paints over several messages on a building near the New Ulm Art Wall Friday.

NEW ULM — Police hope to catch individuals who continue to spray paint symbols and words of hate at the Art Wall park, on a nearby building, in a railroad underpass and on the New Ulm bike trail.

Emmie Turner, a local resident walking the bike path near the Art Wall Wednesday, noticed a crude painting of Hitler with a swastika body. Further down the path, near the tunnel over the railroad track, the passerby noticed more swastikas and use of the N-word.

On Thursday, she and a group of volunteers painted over the racist graffiti on the Art Wall and in the tunnel.

Friday morning, more racist language showed up on the wall.

Friday afternoon, a number of people including Rodrigo Tojo Garcia of New Ulm, returned to area near the Art Wall and repainted some of the message of hope and love.

“I heard they (hateful message creators) covered up some of the graffiti we did yesterday, so I can back to put it back on,” Tojo Garcia said.

Some of those messages read “Be the change the world needs. Spread love, not hate. An eye for an eye makes the world blind-Gandhi.”

After Tojo Garcia left the Wall Park, Kari Rose of New Ulm walked towards it on the trail.

“I think the hateful and racist messages are horrible,” Rose said. “There is no room for it in this town. It needs to change. I’m glad more and more people are stepping up to the plate, saying we’re not okay with it.”

“We’re investigating it. We have leads to follow up on,” said New Ulm Police Chief Dave Borchert. “I walk the trail myself by the Art Wall. I’d like to catch the people doing this.”

“We’re heard from a number of concerned citizens. A group of them is looking for the suspects. The comments are hurtful,” Borchert added.

Borchert said if officers see hateful graffiti, they’ll document it for evidence.

“I’ve never seen it this bad. It’s really spread,” Borchert said. “They’re damaging property now. Painting outside the wall, on the bike trail, underpass and on the state bridge is illegal.”

Borchert said individuals convicted of damage to property for painting messages on places other than the Art Wall could be charged with felonies if the costs to repair the damage exceeds $1,000. Such charges including lesser repair costs would be gross misdemeanors or misdemeanors.

“If it’s juveniles, we can do juvenile petitions for felonies. Reports would go to the Brown County Attorney’s Office,” Borchert said.

(Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

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