The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) arrested a male transient on March 10 at 2:00am while he was in the act of spray painting a racial epithet at a parking lot on Ivar Street and DeLongpre Avenue. The same graffiti was also painted on a wall surrounding a parking lot at the corner of Cahuenga Boulevard and Fountain Avenue, and is believed to have been done by the same person. The perpetrator, 32-year-old John Goodwin, who is Caucasian, was spotted by a witness in the act of vandalism. The witness called the police. Goodwin was arrested for felony vandalism, but the city attorney’s office later reduced the charge to a misdemeanor when it was determined that less than $400 physical damage was done to the property. Graffiti that causes less than $400 in damage is considered a misdemeanor, according to Lt. Robert Binder, with the LAPD’s Hollywood Division.
The graffiti was a violent, racially motivated directive that was scrawled across the wall in two different locations. It read, “hang all niggers.” Binder explained that the LAPD would have considered the incident a hate crime if it targeted a particular victim.
“When we see swastikas on synagogues, we can say that person is targeting a congregation, and that would be considered a hate crime,” Binder said. “If this remark had been spray painted on a house, we would have most definitely wanted it classified as a hate crime, because that indicates that the perpetrator is going after a particular family. In this instance, society as a whole is the victim, and the emotional damage could be serious, but without a specific victim, it’s hard to get a hate crime classification.”
Goodwin is a repeat misdemeanor offender. He was arrested a few weeks prior to the graffiti incident for throwing rocks at police cars.
“He has mental health issues and we are keeping our eye on him,” Binder said. “Unfortunately, his offenses so far have been misdemeanors and we have to take these things on a case-by-case basis. We can’t hold him if the charges don’t warrant it.”
Goodwin will appear in court next week on misdemeanor charges.
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