Racist messages spray painted on train cars, arrests made - WNEM TV 5

Racist messages spray painted on train cars, arrests made

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Source: WNEM Source: WNEM
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Source: WNEM Source: WNEM

Four people could be charged, suspected of spray painting train cars with racist messages.

Saginaw Police were called to the area of Maple and Maine Streets on May 8, at 9:13 p.m.

There were reports of people, dressed in white, spray painting train cars in the “Train Yard."

Police were able to find the four while walking northbound on Maple toward Vermont, and arrest them.

Of the four that were arrested, three are juveniles and were released to guardians.

An 18-year-old Saginaw woman was arrested and lodged for malicious destruction of property after the graffiti was discovered.

Keith Ruger enjoys living next to the Saginaw Railway Museum. That was until Tuesday when he saw four people appearing to spray the side of boxcars with graffiti.

"We could see them easily. Two were regularly dressed and two were in these white suits, probably to keep the paint off of them," Ruger said.

One of the messages stated "the Aryans will rise again," while another said, "don't forget me, I'm Hitler's kid."

Ruger and his family called Saginaw police right away, which led to the swift arrest of the 18-year-old suspect.

Ruger said the shock of seeing such racist messages is disheartening.

"I would like my neighborhood to look nice. I've always lived in a nice neighborhood and I don't feel like this one's any different," he said.

He said this isn't the first time he's seen the Saginaw Railway Museum vandalized. However, he is glad police were able to get involved.

"I'm glad they caught them. I've always yelled at the kids when they're back here just throwing rocks at the trains because I don't think that's right. Why do kids mess with them? I'd like to know," Ruger said.

The museum's board of directors released the following statement:

The Saginaw Valley Railroad Historical Society was greatly saddened to learn of the racist graffiti that was spray-painted at our location last night.   

As an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that relies totally on membership dues and donations for survival, it is heartbreaking to see the work of these dedicated volunteers on these historical artifacts to be vandalized in any way, but especially as a canvas for messages of hate, which we find abhorrent.   

We have contacted our insurance company to arrange to have the offensive graffiti removed as soon as possible. The museum’s board will meet on the evening of May 9th to discuss this incident and possible security improvements to the property.  

On behalf of the entire membership of our organization, we would like to thank both the citizen who saw the vandalism taking place and contacted law enforcement, and the Saginaw Police Department for their quick response in apprehending the suspects.  The Saginaw Railway Museum has long enjoyed the support of the Saginaw community and we look forward to continuing to serve the area by telling this important piece of Saginaw’s history for years to come.

The incident has museum officials second guessing their security system. They are working on ways to make sure something like this never happens again.

Karl Melcher, secretary for the museum's board, said there is no room for racism in this city.

"I couldn't believe it when I first saw it. It blew your mind," Melcher said.

The fence that surrounds the museum is tall and topped with barbed wire. But the fence in front is only a few feet tall and easy to climb over.

Melcher believes the four suspects hopped the front fence.

"The thing about the fence is that it's city ordinance that limits that part of it," he said.

He also said an upgrade to some of their systems could help in keeping vandals out.

"We are looking at upgrading our exterior lighting," Melcher said.

Melcher said he is glad the suspects were caught and he has a message for them.

"To actually stop and think about what you're doing. It may just seem like a teenage prank, but really especially when you're putting in hateful, racist messages, you're really doing things that are a lot more hurtful and damaging than they seem to you at the time," Melcher said.

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