PLEASANTON — Vandals went out of their way to damage the Patrick family home on Election Night.
Their car tires were slashed, as was their pro-Obama sign. Profanities about the president-elect were spray painted on their garage and cars. Their house was egged and toilet-papered.
No other house in their neighborhood was vandalized, nor were any other signs touched. The Patricks felt singled out because they are black.
The destruction was a miserable experience, but the Patricks say it has brought out the good in people. Since the attack, community members have gone out of their way to show solidarity with the family.
Cards of support line the Patrick family piano. Gifts of cookies and flowers, kind words from strangers, and offers to paint away the profanities on their garage and to repair their tires have been given.
Allison Patrick said the goodwill has brought her to tears.
"They went out of their way," she said. "They didn't have to do that. I'm very grateful."
"We just want to say thank you so much," her husband, Phil, added. "This really confirms that there are a lot of people with goodwill."
The family woke up Nov. 5 to discover the damage to their house. Already that first morning, outraged neighbors were there to help clean up.
The principal of their children's school came by to make sure they were OK.
In addition, once word got out about the destruction, the responses just kept pouring in.
The family has lived in Pleasanton for six years, and the community response to the crime makes them proud to live in the city.
"We felt fine about being in Pleasanton" before, Phil Patrick said. "And, after the response around us, and (that of) the folks at school, we feel happy about being in Pleasanton."
Police are still investigating, Sgt. Jim Knox said.
"We're investigating as if it is a hate crime," he said.
Earlier on, police said the incident did not meet the elements of a hate crime and that it may have been motivated more by the family's political leanings than race.
The state Penal Code defines a hate crime as a criminal act committed in whole or in part because of one or more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim: disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or association with a person or group with one or more of those actual or perceived characteristics.
Pleasanton Mayor Jennifer Hosterman said the police department has been working diligently and will continue to make the case a priority until it is resolved. She said she has received phone calls and e-mails from concerned residents about the incident.
The election night vandalism is out of character for the community, Hosterman said, but she is proud of how warm and supportive community members have been.
"When these types of incidents happen that devastates families in Pleasanton, the community in Pleasanton rises to the occasion to help make people as whole as possible," she said. "And that is what has happened in this situation.
"We cannot control individual people's behavior. And I don't think individual people's (action), when it's bad, is reflective of our community. How we respond is," she said.
Reach Sophia Kazmi at 925-847-2122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.