Sheriff’s office: Sign with ‘N’ word near highway is not a hate crime

Sheriff’s office: Sign with ‘N’ word near highway is not a hate crime
The sign was placed on property on New Kent Highway.

NEW KENT, VA (WWBT) - The New Kent County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook on Friday that a racist sign placed on property in the 5300 block of New Kent Highway is not a hate crime.

NBC12 viewers sent photos and emails about the sign that said “N***** 4 sale.”

"It's ridiculous,” said Brian Curtiss. “People don't have any common sense. With everything going on they want to add fuel to the fire and it's not necessary."

The sheriff’s office said that a resident put the sign on the property.

They said the man, who is African-American, lives with his mother, who does not want the sign up, and has asked the sheriff’s office to take it down.

Around 12:30 p.m. Friday the sign had been removed.

Da’At Olam, who lives on the property, spoke with NBC12 about the situation.

"I'm not at liberty to say that I put it out there or not,” Olam said. “It was out there."

In speaking with Olam, he claimed people have been trespassing on his property and stealing carpentry equipment.

The Sheriff’s Office said they’ve responded several times over the last year for these claims but haven’t found enough probable cause to make an arrest.

Olam claimed there are racial issues at stake in these reported thefts.

“What they should be concerned about, and paying attention to, are marauders and racist people; actual racist people, they would have never had to see something like that,” Olam said. “I don’t like that word.”

“I didn’t want to believe that’s what I read when I drove by this morning, but it was unmistakable and disheartening,” said one woman. “Nobody should have to see that, especially young children.”

“I don’t know what he’s going through, or what’s bothering him, or why he did it, but he’s got his own right to say what he wants to say,” said Kenneth Atkinson. “It’s just ignorant, all together, it’s just ignorant.”

Sheriff’s deputies went to the property Friday morning and said at one point the sign was taken down.

“Our office has spoken to the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office about this incident and it was determined that this was not a hate crime because the author of the message is the resident of the property,” the sheriff’s office said in its post.

The sheriff’s office said Friday afternoon that the sign is “not intending to intimidate anyone on the property.”

Friday afternoon Olam said he burned the table with the message on it, reducing it to ashes.

Da'At Olam says he burned the table with the message on it Friday afternoon (Source: NBC12)
Da'At Olam says he burned the table with the message on it Friday afternoon (Source: NBC12) (Source: NBC12)

He went on to say he wasn’t concerned about what people thought of it.

“None of these people have risen up to help me,” Olam said.

"There are other ways to put your voice out there other than doing something like that,” Curtiss said.

“It’s not a message for which we, as a county, want to be known,” a woman added. “We want to continue to be the beautiful, welcoming place so many people have made their home. I hope that the person responsible realizes the hurt they’ve cause so many and consider how their actions affect people.”

The sheriff’s office said Friday afternoon that the sign is “not intending to intimidate anyone on the property.”

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