Mailbag: Distressing exclamation

There is no room in our community for racism.

On Tuesday, Feb. 21, while my husband was walking our dog on El Vago Street at 9 p.m., a white sports utility vehicle slowed down and the driver yelled, "I hate n*****s!" at him and sped off. In the drizzly darkness, my husband was unable to determine the make of the car or its license number. He said the voice sounded like that of an older male.

We reported it to the Sheriff's Department, and filed what they called a "hate incident report." Although not the same as a crime report, it does serve to formalize the incident and raise awareness among officers who patrol our city. The Sheriff's Department told us that this is the first report of this type from our city they have received.

While this type of verbal attack doesn't constitute a crime by definition of the law, it does reflect the kind of hatred we must not tolerate in our community. The impacts extend beyond the initial episode. Spencer is not African American. He is, however, of Chinese descent. Raised in a small, rural town in Arizona, his family and other Chinese families there were regularly subjected to prejudice and racial slurs. That was a long time ago. Happily, his adult life in Los Angeles has been relatively free of overt prejudice — until Feb. 21. It may have been a case of mistaken racial identity, but the message of hatred and intolerance remains the same. The incident brought the insults and slurs from his younger life to the surface and really shook him up.

I sincerely hope this incident by a single person doesn't signal the start of a surge in this type of activity in LCF. I want to urge anyone who experiences a similar verbal attack to file a "hate incident report" with the Sheriff's Department. With our current volatile social climate, it is more important than ever to remain vigilant, committed to preventing the spread of such attacks, and to send the unmistakable message that our community will not tolerate racism.

Jan and Spencer SooHoo

La Cañada Flintridge