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Concord, N.H., police link racist graffiti to writing on gun permit

Crime, Law and JusticeElectionsPoliticsCrimeSocial IssuesBarack ObamaFBI

The strange case of the racist writing had puzzled Concord, N.H., for two years, with police wondering who had written the magic-marker rants that suddenly appeared on the homes of African refugees.

On Sept. 18, 2011, a Somali family found a small essay scrawled with disdain on the white clapboard siding of their home:

You are not welcome here
this town was a wonderful crime
free place for hundreds of years.
Your subhuman culture has already
brought many crimes linked to
your mud people. We are sick of
Paying for you to live here.
go back to your hell and leave
us alone. 

Two other homes had also been hit.

Almost a year later, on Aug. 5, 2012, the graffito struck again:

you have proven to
be subhumans.
go back to your
war torn lands.

The messages galled local residents and confused the refugees. Concord's mayor offered a reward. Police queried witnesses, hoping someone, anyone, could provide a clue to the author's identity. Nothing came up.

Now, Concord police think they have the answer - and had it within their grasp all along.

On Tuesday, Raymond "Raynard" Stevens, 42, identified by local media as a tattoo artist, was arrested on suspicion of criminal mischief, a misdemeanor that was boosted to a felony charge by state hate-crime laws.

Concord police turned their attention to him after a detective, scraping around for new investigative leads, decided to check the handwriting on 1,500 concealed-carry gun permits, which were in police possession.

"A light bulb went off in his head: 'Gee, I wonder if we keep those internally,' " Concord police Lt. Timothy O'Malley told the Los Angeles Times in a phone interview Tuesday. "It was really a last-ditch effort."

Poring over the applications, O'Malley said, investigators came across something familiar - a permit with some of the same strange, telltale letters that had appeared in the diatribes.

Two handwriting tests, including one by the FBI, called the writing a match. Investigators began taking a closer look at Stevens, who lived within walking distance of the defaced homes.

O'Malley wouldn't comment on the other "circumstantial" evidence that police think links Stevens to the graffiti. But a glance at a longtime Facebook account under the man's alias revealed angry posts about President Obama, Islam and some occasional fulminations about race.

"if third world parties are now pouring over the borders into every Western developed land like the U.S. (and they are), We as Europeans must be doing something right, yeah? just a little maybe?" read one post, in which Stevens - a self-described "proud Aryan," according to his profile - identified race as one of the two "pesky issues" he was most worried about, along with religion.

As late as Monday, he posted a link titled "White People & The Curse of Racism," which discussed why it was "impossible to escape accusations of racism." "listen up whitey!" Stevens wrote in the post, which was publicly accessible, like much of his Facebook page.

He also sometimes appeared self-conscious about criticism for discussing race or posting political links about race. "i even DELETE comments on my vids that directly insult other races, before you get a chance to see it! i post only to help others think outside the box," Stevens wrote in another post.

But it's whether Stevens wrote racially insulting comments on an entirely different kind of wall that has captured the interest of New Hampshire authorities.

Stevens was ordered held in lieu of $8,000 bail Tuesday and didn't enter a plea at his arraignment, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader; it's not clear whether he had an attorney. A probable-cause hearing was set for Oct. 24.

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