Police probe arson, racist graffiti at black family’s home

Despite being melted by the flames from an adjacent garage, a swatsika can still be seen on the side of a home on Cold Spring Avenue where Schodack police said someone set fire to and painted racist graffiti on the on a black family’s home on Sunday. “He called 911, and when first responders showed up, they noticed there was a swastika and a racial epithet spray-painted on the front of the garage”.

“It’s very disturbing”, Schodack Police Chief Joseph Belardo told HuffPost. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime.

The garage burned to the ground, but volunteer firefighters from five area departments saved the family’s home and limited the damage to the exterior.

Schodack police and state police are collecting evidence, looking for evidence and canvassing the neighborhood.

A motive behind the crime – aside from hate – is unknown to police. Authorities said they’re unaware of any prior issues involving any family members. Belardo said his department then called in its fire investigation team to try to determine where and why the fire started. “So that’s another reason why this is so very disturbing”. Police were doing a lot of painstaking work at the site of the fire. The Rev. David Traynham, president of the local NAACP chapter, said in an email that he has met with investigators from local and state police, as well as the FBI, and while the groups are reserving judgment until the investigation is completed, he said that if it indeed is a hate crime, he and the people he represent want those responsible to be “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law”. He said he can’t recall a similar crime during his two decades on the police force.

The boy, who is white, will not be identified given his age, Belardo said. “We are 100-percent behind the family”.

Madison told the Times Union he is glad his wife and children escaped.

Laquan Madison confirmed with the Albany Times Union that while he doesn’t forgive the arsonist for what he or she did, he’s concluded, “People are going to be who they are”. “My hope is they understand life is not a joke”, he said.

“I’ve been here forever, and I can’t remember the last time that I’ve seen anything like this”, said Belardo.

He says tips from the community really helped in the swift arrest. “It makes me proud that members of my community are stepping up and this family is not going through this alone”.

“This is just something I accept”.

Anyone with information can call the Schodack police at 518-477-8077.