Richmond resident speaks out after hateful message spray-painted on car

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Police are asking for the public’s help to solve what is being referred to as a hate crime.

Someone spray painted a car last night in the city’s Highland Park neighborhood.

8News reporter Gretchen Ross spoke with the victim and found footage of the crime in progress.

The victim said that what happened to his car Tuesday night was an act of hate. He said he wants whoever is responsible to just own up to the crime.

“I just broke down,” Michael Bowman said. “I was like, this is 2017. We shouldn’t be having these issues. I should not feel unsafe in my own neighborhood.”

Last night, 18-year-old Michael Bowman was enjoying dinner with friends at his home on Delaware Avenue when around 10 p.m., he noticed three words spray painted on the side of his car: “GAY MOVE DIE.”

Bowman’s next door neighbor’s security cameras captured the crime as it was happening.

The video shows what appears to be a man approaching Bowman’s car, spraying a word, walking away, before turning around to spray more words.

“I was fine seeing the first word, but move? I was like, no, I’m not moving. I’m a fighter, not a quitter,” he said. “Then when I saw die, I was like, why would you even write that?”

Bowman said he immediately called police to file a report.

“They were very nice throughout the whole process. They were very quick to get out there too,” he said.

Bowman has lived in the neighborhood since September and says he never encountered any threats or negativity from residents.

“We always say hey to each other. Ask how the day is going,” he said.

Bowman says to remove the graffiti may cost him several hundred to a thousand dollars, which he says he can’t afford due to medical bills. Since then, he has turned to social media.

“The community has your back. Once I saw it, I took a picture for insurance and then I thought maybe I should post this to see if anyone knows anyone who can take it off,” he said.

“We’re not going to let this bring us back. This is not going to hinder our progress. We are going to keep moving forward.”

The incident also caught the attention of Virginia Pride President James Milner.

“”I felt like I had been punched in the gut,” he said. “This is not the type of thing that we have become accustomed to. These are not the types of things that we see.”

Milner said he plans on staying in touch with Bowman and to raise money to help remove the vandalism from Bowman’s car.

“Everybody has stood up,” Milner said. “There is this strong wall of support that is saying we will not let this happen in our community. This is wrong. We’re going to fight it. We’re going to support the person who was victimized and we are going to stand together to make sure this doesn’t ever happen again.”

Bowman, meanwhile, isn’t going to let the incident make him fearful for the future.

“We’re not going to let this bring us back,” Bowman said. “This is not going to hinder our progress. We are going to keep moving forward.”

Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham says that the department stands with the LGBTQ community and condemned what happened last night.

The Police Department is working with its Homeland Security Division on the case.

If you have any information, call Crime Stoppers at 780-1000.

Coming up at 6 p.m., we’ll hear about how the organization Virginia Pride is working to help Bowman.

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