NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – It wasn’t the first time Tennessee State University professor Dr. Andrew Patrick’s Black Lives Matter (BLM) signs had been stolen from the front yard of his Sylvan Park neighborhood home. However, it was the first time his home had been vandalized with swastikas and hate messages because of his support for the organization.
“This happens a lot. But the actual vandalizing of our houses with the Neo-Nazi signs and statements is new,” said Patrick, who is a 10-year history professor at TSU.
On March 19, Patrick and his family woke up to the new paint job. Their home, along with four others, were vandalized with racist and anti-semitic graffiti in the Sylvan Park neighborhood.
Patrick’s home was vandalized with three swastikas symbols and two “white power” signs spray painted on the sides. The act was caught on one of Patrick’s neighbors Ring doorbell cameras around 1:30 a.m. The footage shows two individuals vandalizing the home, with one attempting to cover the camera with spray paint.
Patrick and his family have lived in their Sylvan area home for a decade. A community Patrick describes as, ‘a liberal inclusive enclave,’ that has seen a pattern of their community signs being stolen overtime.
“It seems like they were just going after their political opponents like me, as a supporter of BLM,” said Patrick, who identifies as a non-religious white male who was raised Catholic.
Within hours, dozens of neighbors came together to remove the messages and symbols of hate from the vandalized homes. Two of those supporters were TSU professors who also live in the neighborhood, husband and wife, Dr. Elizabeth Dachowski and Dr. John Miglietta.
Patrick noted that the outpouring of support and cleanup included his son and some of his friends.
“They got down to it and did most of the clean up on the house,” Patrick said. “They made many different signs of love and support for BLM and the Jewish community. ”
Now, there are more than 100 signs plastered on Patrick’s home: ‘Hate has no home in Sylvan Park.’
He also stated that he is very appreciative of the support from his TSU colleagues.
“Dr. Miglietta and Dr. Dachowski, as soon as they heard they came over right away,” he said.
“Other colleagues have been calling to make sure I am okay. Everyone has been extremely helpful and kind.”
Dachowski, a TSU history professor, and Miglietta, political science, rushed over after they received a call from Patrick’s wife about being vandalized. “I found this very disturbing,” Dachowski said.
“All of the homes targeted had signs indicating support for disadvantaged groups. Something like this could be the beginning of an isolated incident or a nasty campaign against people.” Dachowski and Miglietta noted that they took pride in the neighborhood joining forces to support one another in solidarity.
Although Patrick is proud of the outpouring of support, he voiced his biggest concern with the state of Tennessee.
“I am a little more concerned about Tennessee’s white supremacy problem,” he said. “So, that is the next step. My neighborhood is going to band together, we are going to be unified, but I want to see some reaction here.” Patrick reiterated that he is not a vengeful individual but wants justice as the two suspects are still at large as of April 11.
“I already forgive them for what they have done. But it would be nice to talk to them,” he stated. “Chucking a few white supremacists in prison for a little while, I don’t think that’s really going to help. The Tennessee government has to do a lot more to fight these hate groups.”
On a federal level, hate crime laws are classified as crimes committed on the basis of the victim’s perceived or actual race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability, according to the U.S Department of Justice.
Patrick told the University that the homes with signs and or flags representing disadvantaged groups being vandalized isn’t a coincidence. He noted that the first time his BLM signs were stolen out of his yard happened during the 2020 election cycle.
“They are trying to intimidate us,” he said. “This is politically motivated vandalism. Not only is it not going away, but it is also getting worse.”
Click here to see video of Dr. Patrick sharing what happened the morning of March 19.
The incident is currently under investigation. If you recognize the individuals from the camera footage, contact Nashville Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463.