SHERWOOD, Ark. – A Sherwood family is left shaken after they found their front yard Pride sign torn to shreds and covered in slurs and curse words.
Neighbors on the quiet street close to City Hall said nothing like this has ever happened before, and other families with Pride flags and Black Lives Matter posters had never had an issue.
Chase Williams and his wife, the owners of the destroyed marker, have lived in the area for years. In June, they added the “Pride lives here” marker in the shape of a heart to their front yard. They said they never had anyone speak out against the sign in the months to follow.
Saturday, Williams and his wife left for an hour-long workout class.
“When we came back,” Williams remembers, “my wife asked me what happened to our sign.”
What they found was the heart ripped apart, covered in graphic language and derogatory slurs, and left with a note that read, “I hate you gays! You are going straight to hell.”
The hate crime shook the neighborhood. Serrata Boson lives just a few houses down from the Williams’. She said she can’t understand the destruction, and the needless hate in such a difficult time.
“It kind of hurt my feelings to hear that someone did that to him,” Boson said. “Everybody’s different. Everyone has a right to represent who they are, what they believe.”
But those that live in the area don’t agree with the hateful act.
Since the vandalism, the Williams’ have been overwhelmed by that same feeling of neighborly love. Neighbors have left social media messages to the family and have even dropped off anonymous gifts to show their support.
“There was a pumpkin, [a] card and then a flowerpot on our front porch,” Williams said after discovering the gifts one day. The added note decorated with a smiling sun read, “Don’t lose faith in humanity. You are loved and you are appreciated. Best wishes, warmest regards.”
Boson is one of many neighbors who would like to see the sign go back up, a move that Williams agrees with. He says he’s already ordered a replacement and will even have an added flag and a few extra security cameras to go with it.
As for the vandals, the family has a message for them: “I forgive them for what they did,” Williams said, “but I won’t forget it.”
The crime has since been reported to the Sherwood Police Department.