One morning this month started like any ordinary day. I walked my dog, was running late for work and hurried out to my car to find a piece of paper on my windshield.
As a longtime resident of midtown Sacramento finding fliers shoved under my windshield wipers is a common annoyance, but I noticed this one was different than the typical laminated postcard-style advertisement. A symbol that looked like a swastika was the first thing I saw. Shock and confusion followed.
As I read the flier my heart stop with fear. “If you have not secured a body dump site, do so now! Kidnap, rob and torture for information and execute all Muslims and Latinos. Leave no survivors.”
Was I being targeted simply because I am a Latina? Was I being watched or followed?
I anxiously looked around and noticed fliers on every vehicle parked on my block. Shock quickly turned to anger. Someone is encouraging others to attack people simply because of their ethnicity or religion.
How is it that in 2016, in our state capital, someone had the audacity and ignorance to place this hate-filled flier on my car and in my neighborhood? Why is this OK?
I am disturbed by the reactions of others to these inflammatory fliers. I heard reactions like “this guy is a crazy, don’t pay attention to him,” or “don’t worry, he’s harmless, it’s just a publicity stunt.”
We must stand together as a community unified against such hate.
What these people don’t understand is that, nowadays, it doesn’t take much to turn words into action. At what point do we, as a community, stop brushing off others as harmless and crazy? Does it take someone getting injured for people to take these threats seriously?
I later learned that the alleged culprit has been arrested for violating his probation, but not because of his connection with these fliers. He wanted to get as much media attention as possible to spread his hate. Unfortunately, he did. TV news stations and The Sacramento Bee reported the incident.
Hate messages against Latinos and Muslims have been reported in the presidential campaign. People have been assaulted at campaign rallies simply because of the color of their skin. These messages have been broadcast nonstop. This only encourages others.
We must change this rhetoric. We must acknowledge the complacency and not stay silent any longer.
Sacramento is one of the most diverse cities in California – and I am proud of my city. But we must spread a message of solidarity, love and respect. There is no place for hate in our state.
Melissa Aristizabal is a Colombian American and a third-year law student at McGeorge School of Law. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.