DELANO, Minn. (WCCO) — Even on a beautifully sunny day, there was still a shadow recently cast over the Wright County town of Delano. One that hundreds people were determined to shine on through.
“What happened here in town was not acceptable in my book,” said Nicole Kimball.
Mayor Dale Graunke’s description of what happened a week earlier was more blunt.
“It’s hate, that’s what it is,” he said. “It’s hate.”
That hate was painted in words and symbols on the walls inside and outside of Latanza Douglas’s home. An African-American with two African-American foster children, Douglas found her house ransacked and vandalized with racism on Sunday, March 12.
There, swastikas and racial slurs spray painted in bedrooms. The words “get out” were plastered next to the back door.
Superintendent Matthew Schoen lives in Douglas’s neighborhood and visited her to show his support, but the damage left behind left him nearly speechless.
“Words can’t express the absolute shame I felt from watching and listening to (Douglas) and to watch and look at that house and the condition that it was in,” he said.
But rather than holding on that shame, he and several others fueled those feelings into a glowing mission.
“I think it’s cool. It’s very cool that there’s this many people coming out,” Kimball said of the large crowd that had formed downtown.
Sunday night’s vigil, which brought out at least 200 people, was the town’s first step in letting people know Delano stands united and welcomes all.
“That’s the unity here and that’s how much people do care here,” said Mayor Graunke. “They’re willing to help in every way they can.”
Douglas said she appreciated that the town was willing to host a vigil, however she did not plan to attend it. The turnout showed however, that although it appears her family was targeted, scores of people were affected by the crime.
“This is not what we stand for, we never have, we never will,” Mayor Graunke said of the crime.
The Delano Clergy Group is hosting a meeting to create a task force to address issues of hate and racism on April 25. It’s at 6 p.m. at the City Hall building.
The Wright County Sheriff’s Office continues to follow up on leads for the investigation into the crimes.