Crime

Police investigating after car keyed with homophobic slur in downtown Lexington

A man in downtown Lexington found “HIV+” and a homophobic slur keyed on his car last Wednesday. Photos of the vandalism were shared on social media, prompting frustration and support from the community.
A man in downtown Lexington found “HIV+” and a homophobic slur keyed on his car last Wednesday. Photos of the vandalism were shared on social media, prompting frustration and support from the community. Provided by Josh Mers

Lexington police are investigating after a man found his car vandalized with a homophobic slur last week downtown, and the crime appears to be an isolated, targeted act.

Between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Aug. 15, someone keyed the man’s car outside his house, former chair of Fairness Lexington Josh Mers said. The man, who did not want to be named, found “HIV+” scratched on one side of his car and a homophobic slur on the other.

“He’s not trying to seek attention, not trying to seek profit,” Mers said. “He wants people to know that this happened in Lexington and not one of the far rural outreaches of our state.”

Lexington police took a criminal mischief report Aug. 15 and are investigating.

The vandalism appears to have been an isolated incident, and there have been no similar reports made in the city recently, police spokeswoman Brenna Angel said. While the investigation continues, the graffiti appears to be targeted vandalism, she said.

If the case is prosecuted, hate and bias shown in the act could be used to get a harsher sentence for the perpetrator, Angel said.

Mers posted pictures of the vandalized car on social media Wednesday, and he said the response has been heartening.

“One of the best parts of the Lexington community is looking at offers to help this young man,” Mers said in a phone interview Thursday. He said some local auto body shops have also reached out, offering to try to fix the damage to the vehicle for free.

While plenty have stepped up to offer their support, members of the LGBTQ+ community are frustrated and upset about what happened, Mers said.

“We’ve worked really hard over the last several years to position Lexington as a very open and welcoming community, not just for the LGBT community, but our entire broader community, to celebrate that diversity,” Mers said. He said that incidents like the vandalism are cause for concern that perhaps not enough has been done.

The man whose car was vandalized is not very active in Lexington’s LGBTQ+ community, and he knows of no obvious suspects, Mers said. This is the first time the man has experienced discrimination on a personal level, Mers said.

“I would like to hope it is an isolated incident, but I think we’re seeing with the national and even state level political climate, folks are becoming more and more accepting of hate speech,” Mers said. “It’s being legitimized by leaders.”

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