TUOLUMNE COUNTY — Racial slurs and messages of hate were spray-painted all throughout an area of Basin Creek in Tuolumne County.
When Mike Austin and his friends saw the graffiti this week he posted pictures to a community Facebook group.
“We don’t want that,” Austin said. “Racism isn’t learned, it’s taught. That’s teaching people that it’s OK to say that word and it is not OK.”
As FOX40’s reporter was interviewing Austin, Eli Mansfield said his first name was spray-painted a few feet from the racist epithets.
Mansfield told FOX40 he comes from one of the only black families in the small community Tuolumne.
“I heard about it today. A friend of mine was like, ‘Hey, you should get on Facebook,” Mansfield said.
He said he couldn’t come up with a good reason why he was targeted other than his race.
“To be honest, I feel really sad,” Mansfield said. “I just feel like, I don’t know, I’m just kind of hurt. I just wish people would grow up.”
FOX40 could not immediately verify that Mansfield was a target.
The area has been closed off for the week by the U.S. Forest Service.
This Friday, Austin is bringing some volunteers to help Stanislaus National Forest workers paint over the graffiti.
While the paint may fade, everyone FOX40 spoke to said they hope it’s the hatred and ignorance that wash away.
“Whatever I did to wrong them in the past I’m sorry,” Mansfield said. “I’m not angry with them, I’m just saddened, deeply.”
The Stanislaus National Forest spokesperson said they are leading a group to clear the graffiti and that they have a U.S. Forest Service investigator on the case.
The group FOX40 spoke to found a white spray paint can and gave it to investigators.