Community takes action after racial slurs spray painted on Tenino family's home

Someone spray painted racial slurs and other hurtful messages on a Tenino family's home while they were on vacation, friends said. (KOMO)

TENINO, Wash. -- Tenino police are investigating a possible hate crime after someone spray painted racial slurs and other hateful messages on a family’s home while they were on vacation.

Friends of the family believe whoever was responsible for the vandalism likely struck sometime early Friday morning. 3 sides of the home were covered with spray paint along with a truck parked nearby.

As soon as the community heard about what happened, they did something remarkable.

Dozens of volunteers spent hours Saturday scrubbing the spray paint off from the family's truck. They also added primer and a fresh coat of green paint to the outside of their home.


"It’s too cruddy of a world to have this kind of stuff happen in your own community and not do something about it," said Mike Vanderhoof, who works for Thurston County Fire District 12. "Main thing is we wanted to make sure the family didn’t see this. Nobody see this kind of junk in their life. Nobody needs that kind of hate speech."

"This is a town. We’re a family. And to know that this could happen to somebody here is just devastating. They don’t deserve it," said family friend Misty Dell.


By the time homeowner Marvin Phillips and his family arrived back in their RV Saturday afternoon, their home and his truck looked like they had never been touched.

"I’m shocked. I really am. I’m grateful," said Phillips. "But as Matt’s wife said when I pulled up, it’s not nothing I wouldn’t have done myself."

The letters and words the vandals left behind on his home are messages he's heard before during in his lifetime, Phillips said. But knowing his kids don’t have to see them thanks to the community's generosity means the world, he added.

"I was more concerned about them," Phillips said. "And I didn’t know what the town had did until today."

Tenino's mayor told KOMO News he believes what happened to the Phillips family was an isolated incident, but police are taking the matter seriously and have launched an investigation. So far, there have been no arrests in the case, he said.

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