Damaged Confederate statue may have prompted hate crime
Posted May 29, 2012
REIDSVILLE, N.C. — What started as a controversy over a Confederate statue has evolved into an investigation by the FBI and the Secret Service of a suspected hate crime.
Last week, someone spray-painted "Monument is coming back" on the side of a Gibsonville auto body shop. The shop's owner, Ernie Pinnix, has been a vocal opponent of returning a Confederate statue to downtown Reidsville after a vehicle knocked the statue off its base last year.
All six tires on Pinnix's tow truck were slashed in the recent incident, and an obscene insult involving President Barack Obama was painted on his business and scratched on the truck's body.
"I will never again be able to come outside into my yard in comfort or secure in my belief that I'm safe," Pinnix said Tuesday.
Officials with the state chapter of the NAACP visited Pinnix on Tuesday in a show of support.]
"Hateful and racially charged messages, in addition to property damage, have terrorized this family," NAACP HKonJ Coalition Coordinator Curtis Gatewood said.
The Historical Preservation Action Committee has sued several groups over the statue controversy, saying it should be returned to its former spot and not moved to a local Confederate cemetery, as Pinnix has proposed.
"When you have an accident in this country, it's restored. It's fixed," said Ira Tilley, a spokesman for the committee.
Still, Tilley was quick to condemn what happened to Pinnix.
"We do not support any group that hates in any fashion," he said.
State NAACP leaders and Pinnix said they just want justice to be served.
"I'll ask the people out there, turn yourself in so that we can get back to healing," said Perry Graves, a friend of Pinnix's.