A Brookline couple woke up last Friday morning to find the garage door of their home vandalized; it was covered with words and symbols of hate.
On Feb. 21, Marlene Williams and her boyfriend, Jason Powell, woke up to find the words, “Die Nigger” and “1.8.7,” along with swastikas spray-painted in black on their white door. The code 187 usually refers to murder. Williams, who is Black, and Powell, who is White, are an interracial couple and have lived in Brookline for three years. She said nothing like this has ever happened before.
Williams, who lives in the home with Powell and their 5-year-old daughter, said she does not feel safe and that the Pittsburgh Police are not doing anything about it.
“I did call the mayor this morning,” Williams said to the New Pittsburgh Courier on Feb. 24. “And told him that as a citizen of the City of Pittsburgh, I’ve lived here all my life, he’s (Powell) from Alabama, I feel like I’ve been let down as a citizen. I don’t feel safe, I don’t feel my child is safe walking to and from school, and it’s not okay. I feel they’ve been unreliable and the police have not done their job.”
Williams believes that a couple from her daughter’s school, whom her and Powell have had an ongoing feud with since January, defaced her property. However, there were no witnesses.
Williams said it all began over a cell phone that her boyfriend and daughter found and turned in. Williams said the couple has harassed her, assaulted her boyfriend and threatened their family, all in front of her daughter. She said she has made several reports and that the police continue to do nothing.
“Actions should have been taken a long time ago when we were reporting and reporting. Now it’s become a death threat and a hate crime.”
When asked why she thinks this happened, Williams said, “It seemed to be over the phone thing, but escalated and escalated. I’ve had conversations with different older people I know and they continue to ask if it’s a race thing, “because you’re an interracial couple.” She said she’d reply no, until she found the message on her garage door last week.
Several calls were made to the Zone 6 police station for comment and update on the investigation, but did not get a response. However, Sonya Toler, public information officer for the City of Pittsburgh, said, it’s an ongoing investigation and that it is policy for officers not to comment about ongoing investigations. She said this was just the latest of several complaints in an ongoing dispute between Williams and Powell, and the other couple.
Williams said her daughter is the one greatly affected by the ordeal. “She knows what’s going on. She’s 5, so she doesn’t know what the words mean. But she looks out for the people, she’s aware. And it’s not okay that she may be feeling different walking to and from school because of someone else’s actions and ignorance.”
Williams said they just want to see the system work and for justice to be served.