Halls family wants answers after possible hate crime

Halls family wants answers after possible hate crime

Posted:
The message was scrawled in chalk in front of their home. The message was scrawled in chalk in front of their home.
"I have every right to be here without being harassed because of the color of my skin," LaTonya said. "I have every right to be here without being harassed because of the color of my skin," LaTonya said.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

HALLS (WATE) - Two suspects in a possible hate crime are wanted by the Knox County Sheriff's Office after racial slurs were written on one family's front steps.

The Washburns have lived in their townhouse in the Halls area since September and said they've never experienced something like what happened Wednesday night.

Marquis Washburn, 18, was home alone when he said he heard something hit the door.

"There were people throwing rocks, then I looked and saw they were writing racial slurs on the concrete," Marquis said. "I was nervous at first because I didn't know what was happening. I didn't know how many people it was."

After the suspects left, the Washburns found the hateful message written in chalk on their step.

"It said, 'how do you get a [expletive] out of your front yard?' And it said, 'by hanging them in the back,' and had written 'KKK' on the bottom," Marquis' mother LaTonya Washburn described.

The sidewalk was washed clean Thursday, but the anger still remained for the family.

"I have every right to be here without being harassed because of the color of my skin," LaTonya said. 

Marquis said he's never seen the suspects before, but could tell they were white and possibly around his age. His mother said it could have been worse.

"I had to kind of pull myself together and thank God that no one got hurt, that my son was ok," LaTonya explained. "This was just to me a hate crime and unacceptable and something really needs to be done about it."

The sheriff's department is investigating and said they have stepped up patrol in that area.

They said they won't be able to determine if it is a hate crime until after the investigation is complete. If that does turn out to be the case, it will be turned over to the FBI.

An FBI spokesperson told 6 News this incident has definite potential to be a civil rights violation.

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