BEVERLY — Racist and disturbing graffiti surfaced in five different parts of a Beverly alley Wednesday night, according to Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th).
Swastikas, the N-word and other troubling phrases were scrawled upon garages and a church shed in the alley between Claremont and Oakley avenues from 103rd to 106th streets, O'Shea said.
"Some people might not think this is a big deal, but it is a big deal," said O'Shea, adding that all of the vandalism was painted over by Thursday morning.
A profane message was written on the shed of the Beverly Covenant Church at 10545 S. Claremont Avenue. And another message from the vandals included the phrase, "Suicide is cool," O'Shea said.
He said neighborhood kids are likely to blame for the graffiti and he's asked police to reach out to homeowners in the area to see if anyone has security camera footage that might help identify the culprits.
"It's upsetting. It's upsetting that kids in our neighborhood are responsible for this," he said.
O'Shea knows two of the homeowners whose garages were vandalized and doesn't believe the culprits were targeting anyone in particular. In fact, one of the victims, Katie Murphy, works in his office.
"I don't know if Katie even knows she had a swastika on her garage last night," said O'Shea, who added that he's heard reports of some drinking near the church. Otherwise, the block is known to be quiet.
The Chicago Police Department said the graffiti surfaced around 9:45 p.m. Wednesday.
On March 2, 2015, similar graffiti, including swastikas, was found in the alley in the 10400 block of South Claremont Avenue. Neighbors at the time said the area was known for drinking.
"I (heart) the devil" was also written on a garbage can in that incident, police said.
An 81-year-old black man walking his dog on the 10300 block of South Claremont Avenue Thursday morning said he's lived there since 1975. He declined to provide his name.
He rarely sees groups of teens mulling about and added that he hasn't had any problems since 1978. That's when someone destroyed several panels on his back fence. He described those living nearby as friendly and said he hasn't had any race-related issues.
The Southwest Chicago Diversity Collaborative was founded, in part, to address such incidents and encourage racial diversity in the Beverly area by hosting educational events throughout the neighborhood.
"We have seen a marked increase of racial intimidation, hate and white supremacist threats, both nationally and here in the 19th Ward. This is just one example. It’s up to all of us to speak out against these acts whenever they occur. People of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds should be able to live here without harm or harassment," the group said in a statement issued Thursday morning.
The statement also included an apology to the victims of the vandalism, offered to support for those struggling with the incident and called upon local leaders to do the same.
"Hate should have no home here," the statement concludes.
Renee, a black woman also walking her dog on the same block where the graffiti surfaced, said she hasn't personally been a victim of any racial attacks in her 22 years as a Beverly resident. She declined to provide her last name.
Still, she said such incidents remind her that racism is still alive both in the neighborhood and throughout the world. She also noted that she'll sometimes hear doors lock or catch people looking at her suspiciously as she and her dog walk past.
"I just laugh," Renee said. "I have something to lose here too."