The semi-anguished tip came in one day last week, from a big fan of the Roanoke River Greenway.
He shall remain nameless, but he rides his bike on the linear park most nice-weather days. And what he had observed in Vic Thomas Park left him shocked and dismayed.
It was a relatively new bench with a plaque that honored a local guy, Tom Skelly. It was donated by Skelly’s family — and we’ll get into the story behind that in just a moment.
On the large, light-gray concrete pad below the bench, some cretin had scrawled in large black letters, “david duke Radio.” It looked as if it had been done with a fat black permanent marker.
You’ve probably heard of David Duke. He’s a white-separatist swine, a former Louisiana state lawmaker and ex-grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. He now peddles his racist and anti-immigration garbage on a radio show. It may be internet only — I’m not sure. He’s a hate-monger.
“I go down to the greenway to get away from all that stuff,” the revolted tipster told me. “It’s the last thing I want to see.”
He keyed me where to look and that day I went over there. Sure enough the scrawl was there.
On Thursday I prowled the greenway on foot, and discovered another. It was a swastika, inside a star of David, on a wall underneath the railroad tracks overpass near Roanoke Memorial Hospital.
By Friday, the city Parks and Recreation Department had heard about the graffiti beneath the bench and power-washed it away.
That’s part of the good news. Another part has to do with the story of how the bench got there in the first place.
READ THE REST OF THIS COLUMN HERE.