Sunday morning seemed like just another weekend day for Gloria Boyd.
Boyd, a USF student, awoke early and readied herself to go to church. But as she left her St. Petersburg apartment and made her way to her silver Jeep Grand Cherokee, Boyd found herself looking directly into racism’s ugly face.
Scrolled raggedly on Boyd’s car in black spray paint were the phrases “Go to hell Nigger” and “F— you bitch.”
Boyd said this is the third time in the past five years that her car has been vandalized. She said she has her suspicions as to who committed the act, but she isn’t completely sure why it happened.
“I don’t know who did it,” Boyd said. “(But) if I caught them, they’d be in trouble.”
Boyd said she reported to the St. Petersburg police that she had a confrontation with her neighbors downstairs and believes they may be involved.
George Kajtsa, spokesman for the St. Petersburg police, said the incident is being investigated, but no arrests have been made at this point. He said police have called the apartment of Boyd’s accused neighbors twice, but no one has been home. He said police will continue to visit the apartment until they can conduct a formal interview.
Kajtsa said the crime is being considered criminal mischief, and that it might eventually qualify as a hate crime.
Meanwhile, Boyd must endure the indignation of driving her vandalized car with its disturbing message until she can have it painted over. But, she said, it does not bother her that people may be upset by the graffiti.
“I’m not going to put myself in a hole because some a–hole decided I’m a nigger,” Boyd said.
Boyd, who said she is in her 40s, parked on campus Tuesday directly in front of the Library. She is forced to use handicap parking spots because a stroke she suffered robbed her of full usage of her left leg.
Boyd is using the visibility her car now has to strike back against her apartment complex. Placed neatly in her window is a “stop racism” sign.
“This is what happens to your vehicle if you are black and you live at Carlton Towers, 470 3rd Street, St. Petersburg,” the sign said.
Carlton Towers’ property manager refused to comment or give her full name. Lydia Bishop, who refused to give her title, works for the Carlton Towers ownership. She said she has not talked to the police yet, and that, to her knowledge, such a hate crime has never happened in the complex before.
“I believe (Carlton Towers) is safe,” Bishop said. “(But) I don’t believe there is any place that is safe in America anymore.
“I don’t have any idea of who did it. (But) it must be an ignorant person.”Boyd said, despite all that has happened to her surrounding the crime, she is most concerned by the reaction of her employer.
Boyd said she works for the St. Petersburg Times. She said the newspaper’s security guards asked her to move the vehicle until it was re-painted because it is an “eyesore” and upsetting to customers.
“They would rather me just move the problem out of their sight,” Boyd said.
Boyd said the Times offered to buy her a car cover. She said she refused, and when she came out of work, she found that paper had been placed over the racial slurs.
Anthea Penrose, spokeswoman for the Times, said Boyd was asked to move her car because it was parked in the visitors parking lot.
“The car was in the visitor lot and, as a staffer, she needs to park in the staffer lot,” Penrose said. “Certainly, we were very sympathetic to (Boyd’s victimization). (But) we’re not asking her to do anything exceptional.”
Penrose said no one on the Times security staff put paper on Boyd’s car. She said she is not sure who tried to cover up the graffiti.
Penrose said the Times did offer to buy her a cover. She said security guards are aware of Boyd’s handicap and will drive her to and from her car in golf carts for as long as it takes until Boyd can repair the paint.
“We will accommodate her,” Penrose said. “We don’t know why she refused (help), frankly.”
Boyd said the Times wants to “hide behind a cover.” She said she will drive the car until she can afford and has time to have it repaired.
“I’ll get it painted when I get ready,” Boyd said.