A candidate for Raleigh City Council said Friday that someone vandalized her campaign sign overnight by spray-painting the word “Trump” and a racial slur across it.
Zainab Baloch, who is Muslim, is one of seven candidates running for two at-large seats on the council. Early voting is ongoing and Election Day is Tuesday.
Her campaign posted a video on her Facebook page Friday morning showing the sign, located at 5520 Louisburg Road in northeast Raleigh.
The words “sand n-----” are painted across a photo of Baloch’s face.
Baloch (pronounced bal-oh-sh) said she’s not necessarily surprised that some people would react negatively to a Muslim woman running for office. She said she started wearing a scarf in fifth grade and since then has endured verbal harassment on social media and walking on the street.
But that doesn’t make it any less “hurtful and traumatizing,” Baloch said. She said she’s running not only because she cares about Raleigh but because she wants to help foster unity. Americans need to have conversations about their differences, she said.
“If you have people who understand people from other backgrounds and differences, you can help make the place you’re living in a place where everyone can feel safe,” Baloch said.
Her campaign released a statement on the vandalism.
“I know this does not represent the citizens of Raleigh or the city I have called home over the past two decades,” the statement says. “Throughout this campaign I have spoken often about the importance of keeping everyone in Raleigh safe from forms of injustices. Nobody should feel persecuted for their race, religion, beliefs, or gender identity. We must open a dialogue and discuss how we can do better as a city in protecting our marginalized communities.”
News of the vandalism spread quickly Friday morning, garnering reactions from national organizations, elected officials and residents.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, condemned the vandalism in a press release. CAIR said it’s common, pointing to similar incidents in New Mexico, Oregon and Washington.
“This type of hate incident seeks to prevent positive civic engagement by all our nation’s citizens, thereby undermining the very foundation of democracy,” CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said. “Americans across the political spectrum must condemn this hate-filled act of intimidation.”
Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane said the “racist rhetoric is absolutely reprehensible.”
“One of the things that makes Raleigh great is our diversity,” McFarlane said in a statement. “We are an accepting community that embraces all of our citizens. Raleigh is stronger because we work together to lift each other up. Anything that tries to tear us apart will not be tolerated.”
The Wake County Republican Party also condemned the slurs as “disgusting and vile.”
“This despicable act in no way represents the citizens of Raleigh, members of the Republican Party, or any true Trump supporter,” said Charles Hellwig, chairman of the Wake County Republican Party.
“It is sad that this sort of religious bigotry still shows its horrible face from time to time,” he continued. “We are better than this, and the Wake County Republican Party wants Ms. Baloch to know that this reprehensible act does not represent anything other than the twisted lunacy of some disgusting individual.”
The North Carolina Democratic Party also released a statement.
“There is no room for this kind of hatred in North Carolina,” said Nida Allam, a vice chair for the party. “Our diversity is a strength, one we must celebrate and fight for by standing up against bigotry, white supremacy, and racism. All North Carolinians deserve to feel safe and welcome in the state they call home.”
Baloch said she appreciated the support and is undeterred by the incident.
“Raleigh is my home. I’ve always called it my home and no type of words or hate language will make me leave,” she said.