A day after a northern Vigo County couple found the letters “KKK” burned into their front yard, the FBI joined the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department in the investigation.
“It’s not a joke. It’s not a prank,” said Sheriff’s Lt. Tim Gossett, classifying the probe as one into a hate crime, based on race. Gossett, along with an FBI agent, spent part of Friday afternoon interviewing Emanuel and Amelia Smith.
The Smiths reported Thursday morning to a sheriff’s deputy that someone had singed their well-manicured lawn, scorching 6-foot initials for the Ku Klux Klan into the grass. A tire on their son’s Dodge Neon also was flattened outside the Smiths’ home on North 38th Street, just south of Marquette Avenue.
“This is 2006. You just don’t think of this type of thing happening,” said Amelia Smith, who works as a bank branch manager. “People still have hatred toward African-Americans.”
Incidentally, Indiana is one of only four states in the country which does not have a hate crimes law, which provides for enhanced penalties for crimes motivated by bias, such as a person's race, religion or sexual orientation. Indiana does have a reporting law which requires law enforcement agencies to gather statistics on hate crimes.