A Black couple was the target of political violence, resulting in their cars engulfed in flames and graffiti on their garage door.
Fire crews arrived at the home of Jayla Gipson and Charles Crawford to dowse the blazes.
It was early Dec. 9 around midnight when Gipson’s son had awoken early to use the bathroom and saw that one of the family’s sedans was on fire. He alerted the rest of the family, which was able to safely escape the home, the Little Elm Journal reported.
“If he hadn’t done that, my house might be burned down,” Gipson told WFAA. “My daughter’s bedroom is towards the front of the house, so this could have been really bad.”
As the fire department put out the flames, out of the smoke emerged the phrase ‘Trump 20’ spray-painted on their garage door.
The Little Elm Police Department and federal authorities are now investigating what “the family says was a targeted ‘political’ attack prompted by a Black Lives Matter yard sign that was also damaged during the night. The couple said they found the words ‘Silence = Violence’ on their sign crossed out with the same bright red paint used on their garage door,” reported MYSA.
Bricks from their yard were also used to partly shatter the windshields of their two sedans, Gipson told the Journal.
Gipson and Crawford moved to Little Elm and told WFAA that they love their neighborhood, and have had no problems up until now since moving their in 2017.
They pinpointed the “Black Lives Matter” sign put in their yard near Thanksgiving as a probable trigger for the reaction.
“That sign was in my yard for less than two weeks and then all of a sudden we get a tragedy like this,” Gipson said. “I would have preferred they just take the sign. But to set the house on fire? That’s going way too far.”
Gipson told WFAA she feels like she’s the “victim of a harmful political jab” and potentially a hate crime.
Little Elm Police Department Chief Rodney Harrison told the Journal that it’s too early to call the scene a hate crime, and said that law enforcement, including the FBI, is considering “all possible angles.”
“Investigators have extensively canvassed the scene, including interviewing neighbors and reviewing video footage from nearby cameras. The investigation is currently ongoing,” said the police department in a news release.
The total damage to the cars and home was around $70,000, and both cars were a total loss, according to Gipson.
Meanwhile, Gipson’s other neighbors have showed up to help them in their time of need, with one person purchasing the couple a security camera system and another offering them paint with which to cover up the graffiti, Gipson told WFAA.
Gipson expressed that she believes the attack was directed at her family and their beliefs and thinks that it was unwarranted, particularly in this time of division and strife.
“We definitely feel targeted,” Gipson told the Journal. “It’s political, and it’s uncalled for. I don’t feel like we should have to go through that. This is because of my family’s identity and that we shared a Black Lives Matter sign.”
The family has since launched a GoFundMe with a goal of $50,000.