The support continues to roll in for a Tenino man whose property was vandalized with racist graffiti.
Marvin Phillips and his family were on vacation last week when unknown suspects spray-painted “KKK” and other racial slurs on the side of his house and all over his truck. Less than 24 hours later, more than two dozen volunteers showed up Aug. 20 to paint over the graffiti before the Phillips family returned.
At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Mayor Wayne Fournier announced that the owners of Sunset Chevrolet in Sumner have pledged to repair, restore or replace Phillips’ truck. Fournier said volunteers were unable to remove the orange spray paint from the truck’s interior.
Phillips told the council that he was grateful for the community’s outreach, which has generated national media attention. He doubts the culprits belong to the Ku Klux Klan and said the hate group may be getting undeserved notoriety. No suspects have been arrested.
“No way do I think the people involved in the KKK came over to my home and did what they did,” said Phillips, who moved to Tenino with his wife and five children in 2015. “I am 58 years old. I know better. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it.”
Phillips said he plans to stay in his new hometown. In fact, the tractor-trailer driver hopes to someday open a bakery in the city.
“I like Tenino. That’s why I moved here,” he said.
Fournier said he is proud of Tenino for coming together and scrubbing out the hateful messages before Phillips’ family could see them.
“We were all sickened by it,” Fournier told The Olympian. “It’s great that the media is highlighting the community’s ability to act.”
Heidi Russell helped rally up volunteers through the Thurston County Youth Football League Tenino Beavers Youth Football & Cheer page on Facebook. When she heard about the vandalism, Russell knew she could count on the community to step up.
“We’re like a family,” she said of the league, which includes Phillips’ children. “I knew my football and cheerleading peeps would be there.”