A tiny town in Washington showed its very big spirit after vandals painted ‘KKK’ and the n-word on a family’s home and truck.
About 50 people in the northern city of Tenino, population 1,700, showed up at the home of Marvin Phillips, who was on vacation with his wife and five children.
They were united by a Facebook post asking for help in covering up the work of vandals who spray-painted racist words the family’s truck and mobile home.
“It was something wrong that needed to be righted,” said firefighter Mike Vanderhoof, who took a call Saturday from the mayor, who told him “another set hands to help” was needed at the Phillips house.
“I was down there for most of the day,” Vanderhoof told InsideEdition.com on Monday. “We’re just a small town. We’re a pretty tightknit community,” he said. Racist graffiti is “not something that happens around here.”
Armed with paint brushes, graffiti remover, primer and good-old-fashioned elbow grease - men, women and children set to work removing the offending scrawls.
Phillips had recently painted his house, so volunteers were able to find a can of leftover paint and take it to a retailer to be matched.
The family returned home Saturday evening just as the big-hearted crew was finishing up.
“They were thrilled. They were ecstatic. They didn’t want the kids to see it. They were thrilled they didn’t have to explain what the words meant.”
Mayor Wayne Fournier was also at the Phillips home.
There were more people who showed up than there were jobs to do, he joked. “People were fighting over getting work to do,” he said. “Now people are upset who didn’t get called to come help.”
The workers were called to action by leaders of the Tenino Beavers Youth Football & Cheer, Fournier said.
“Everybody was concerned that the kids not see it,” the mayor said. “That’s not the way you want to have a discussion about bigotry with your kids.”
Police are investigating, and believe it’s an isolated incident.
Firefighters came. The town’s on-duty police officer came. “People brought money,” Fournier said. “It overshadowed the graffiti. It was almost like it was just a small, small act that was vastly overshadowed by the love of people who showed up on a Saturday morning.”