Police investigate racially charged Irvine flier as hate incident

Irvine police are investigating possible hate incident at apartment complex near UC Irvine

The Irvine Police Department is looking into a report of a racially charged flier left in an elevator of Toscana Apartments, a residential complex near the UC Irvine campus.

The flier addresses noise levels within the complex and includes a paragraph in bold text that reads, "We also would like to remind our African American residents to keep conversation volume down and reduce music levels between 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Multiple complaints have been made regarding this issue."

According to published reports, a UCI student under the username "teyent_theequeenb" found the flier in a complex elevator on Thursday. The student posted a picture of the flier on Instagram that night.

An image of the Equity Residential logo is on the bottom-right corner of the flier. However, Equity Residential representative Marty McKenna stated that the flier was not a product of the housing company.

"The note was not created by any employees of Equity Residential," McKenna said. "We are completely baffled and offended by the language and are cooperating with the police to investigate the matter."

The police are currently investigating the flier's language as a hate incident while Irvine Mayor Steven Choi said the flier is not reflective of the community.

"It is shocking that an individual would spread that kind of racial slur to the public," he said. "We celebrate diversity every day, as illustrated by our cultural festivals that help bring our lives together. In Irvine, this is how we learn from each other. This is how we can live in peace and harmony."

Toscana resident and UC Irvine fourth-year student Tej Patel said Friday that he first learned of the flier Thursday night when his roommate saw it in the elevator of the building they live in and texted him a picture of it. Patel said he and his roommate didn't believe the management put it up and considered it a "terrible joke."

"In an area like Orange County, you'd expect people to be more humane than that," Patel said. "We can't always live in a perfect, harmonious world but it's a shame to know someone would subject a specific group of people this way."

Another Toscana resident and UCI student Jason Ibara said he has no complaints with noise in the apartment complex.

"Personally, I've never had a problem with noise here," Ibara said. "I hope that whoever did it just comes forward and apologizes."

While UCI students do live in the Toscana Apartment complexes, the facilities are "not affiliated with the university in any way," according to Tom Vasich, spokesman for UCI Strategic Communications.

Toscana resident CJ Rogers moved into the complex in January. Rogers identifies as African American and said he has had no complaints about living in the area, but was "thrown off" when he caught news of the flier.

"The person who wrote that was writing about a stereotype," Rogers said. "We're not all the same. A note like that is belittling and degrading to our culture."

Rusty Kennedy, executive director of Orange County Human Relations, a nonprofit dedicated to eliminating prejudice, intolerance and discrimination within the community, says he characterizes this act as a "troubling and racist message meant to ferment animosity and racial prejudice."

"The African American community is a small part of Orange County, only about 2%," Kennedy said. "Unfortunately, their lives are marked by incidents like this too often."

According to Kennedy, if the police find that the person who posted the flier is a resident of Toscana, it is the complex management's decision whether to evict the person. If the person who posted it is not a resident, he said Orange County Human Relations will document the incident.

Alex Chan writes for the Daily Pilot.

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