Andrew Knox and Doug Reid awoke on the morning of December 12 to see the word “fag” scrawled across the front window of their Clearview Road home. A quick investigation revealed the word written three times across their driveway as well. Knox, who with Reid owns and operates the Milpas Street car dealership Zoom Motors and has lived with Reid at the home for seven years, said he believes the graffiti was a reaction to the “No on Prop. 8” signs lingering in the front yard after the November 4 election. He said he called the police to report the crime, but that was not the only order of business that morning. “We had the joy of explaining it to our seven- and eight-year-olds that morning,” he recalled.
Police came to the Knox-Reid home on Monday to see the graffiti. Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte, a spokesperson for the Santa Barbara Police Department, said that the process of investigating such matters can be difficult, as the vandalism is often done quickly and in the middle of night, when few people are around to catch the perpetrators in the act. Also, such prejudice-driven incidents are investigated with the label “hate crime” being an enhancement to the initial crime. This particular investigation remains ongoing. Knox told police and The Independent that he feels the vandalism should be treated as a hate crime.
Knox explained that he and his partner do not live a closeted lifestyle, but there was little to designate his house as one inhabited by a gay couple. He said he nonetheless feels the graffiti came as a reaction to the victory of Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to limit marriage to men and women only. When pressed about what else could have led to the graffiti appearing when it did, Knox said it could have resulted from his home’s prominence on the Trolley of Lights tour, which drew more attention to the house-and sign-than they would otherwise have gotten. “We kind of go overboard,” he said of the decorations he and Reid put up. Knox said he has theorized that someone who wouldn’t have otherwise have had reason to see his home could have noted the pro-gay signs in front and decided to retaliate. He does not suspect the people who live around him. “We have good neighbors,” he said. Knox said a new sign would be erected in front of his house – one reading “No H8 Graffiti” – and that he would be seeing if other homes in his neighborhood would consider posting similar ones in their yards.
Duarte explained that these incidents are relatively rare in Santa Barbara – against gay people in particular or against any other group. He did note, however, that police were called to investigate a similar incident on November 1, when a resident reported the theft of pro-Prop. 8 signs from his yard. “We don’t get a lot of stuff like this, but for these two the common denominator would appear to be Proposition 8.”
Meanwhile, Knox said he was waiting for investigators to photograph the vandalism so they could finally remove it. He even joked that, at this point, he might just put a wreath around it. “I hope some good can come of this,” he said. “Maybe people can learn that this sort of thing is not okay : I feel badly for whoever did it that they have such a lack of love in their life that they would do something like this.”
CLARIFICATION: Though the error does not appear in this longer, online version of the story, an editing mistake caused an article appearing in the December 18 print edition of The Independent to state incorrectly that the police had not yet decided to proceed with this matter as a hate crime. They have. The Independent regrets this error.