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Strasburg house vandalized with hateful words twice in two months

Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 10:47 PM EDT
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SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - A Strasburg resident has now seen their house vandalized twice in the last two months, and they are hoping change will come to the community.

Paul Rush is a lifelong resident of the Town of Strasburg.

In September, Rush said they woke up to see hateful words spray-painted on their home. On the morning of Nov. 3, they experienced the same shock.

“We woke up this morning to much more vulgar graffiti on the home. I know you can’t show it on television, but next to us is a depiction of a couple of things that can’t even be said on TV,” Rush said.

Along with the profanity and vulgar depictions they found on their home, Rush said their car windows were spray-painted black too.

Before the first vandalism in September, Rush had placed a pride flag outside of their home. A few days later the hateful words appeared.

After that, Rush said they were met with such support from the community that they decided to leave the flag up but the vandalism returned, right next to the remnants of the old paint.

“This is the second time in 60 days that my house has been targeted. I have been out as an LGBT person for less than 60 days and I have experienced two hate crimes,” Rush said. “It’s heartbreaking to live here, and I have lived in this neighborhood even for 27 years, and the moment that I decide to be who I actually am openly and freely as anybody should be able to, I’m targeted.”

The Strasburg Police Department is actively investigating both hate crimes, and Rush has contacted the FBI.

“Not a condemnation of the local law enforcement, they are doing all that they can. I just would feel safer with an extra set of eyes,” Rush said.

Strasburg Police Chief Wayne Sager said they do not have many leads at the moment, but wish to find the individual or individuals responsible and successfully prosecute them.

Over the last few weeks, the police department has also been monitoring the residence.

Sager said these crimes are “shocking” and are not a reflection of the whole community. He said these instances are the first time he has seen a hate crime like this in the town over his 15 years there.

Rush said neighbors and a local organization have offered to help fund cameras for the residence, which they hope will deter future incidents.

The town has been working with Rush and the organization Northern Shenandoah Valley Unites to pass a resolution against hate, which will be voted on at the next council meeting Tuesday, Nov. 9.

Strasburg’s Mayor Brandy Hawkins Boies said in a statement to WHSV that “it’s heartbreaking that it happened again,” and said the town is working to keep moving forward as a community.

Rush said they hope to see more direct action in the future, such as pride events and holding a Trans Day of Remembrance vigil on Nov. 20.

“Since all of this has occurred, I’ve had several young LGBT people reach out to me and say ‘I’m closeted and I am so afraid to come out, but seeing you be strong makes it feel a little more safe,’” Rush said.

Anyone with information on both of these hate crimes is encouraged to call the Strasburg Police Department.

Copyright 2021 WHSV. All rights reserved.