The home of a local Tenino, Washington family, was covered by vandals racist slurs this past week, but their hateful act got the opposite reaction. These vandals were trying to unite the town against the Phillips family, but instead, their cruel actions brought the community together to come the family’s aid.
Marvin Phillips and his family were away from home on a camping trip and this past Friday he received a call from law enforcement personnel advising him that both his home and truck had been vandalized.
The news was unsettling to Phillips, and he wanted to know what kind of vandalism had occurred. Due to the nature of the damage with letters “KKK” painted on his car and home, along wit the “N-word,” officials were hesitant to tell Phillips. However, once they did, Phillips was concerned about how he was going to tell his children and explain about this kind of hatred can exist.
A woman, Heidi Russell, whose son is on the same football team with one of Phillip’s children, saw the vandalized home and car and decided no family should have to come back to see that type of hatred scrawled across their property. She decided that the home would be cleaned up, even if it meant her doing the job herself. Fortunately, this was not the case.
(Russell seen above with Marvin Phillips)
Russell put out a plea via Facebook explaining what happened to the Phillips home and asking for help from her friends and family and others in the community. Her request for help was answered by over two dozen people showing up at the Phillips home this past Saturday to get it all cleaned up before the family returned from their vacation.
The people who showed up spent hours cleaning and painting the home and car of the Phillips family, so they wouldn’t have to endure the pain of seeing the ugly words for themselves.
By the time the Phillips family arrived home on Saturday after cutting their vacation short, the hateful messages had all be cleaned away.
The small community of Tenino, Washington only has approximately 1800 residents. According to the 2010 census, this community is comprised of 90% white families with black families making up less than .2 percent of the population.
Phillips, a truck driver, recently moved to Tenino, Washington with his wife and five children in 2015. He said in an interview with the Washington Post,”he’s seen racism in his lifetime. He knows how to shake it off, like “water on my duck feathers.” He also said, “My kids don’t see racism.”
Phillips’ children are biracial and have never encountered the type of racism their father has experienced in his life. His children are involved in cheerleading, Girl Scouts, and one of his sons plays both football and baseball where nearly all his teammates are white.
Later that Saturday, Mayor Wayne Fournier thanked those who attended the cleanup via Facebook.
“Thank you Heidi Russell, Marisa Noonan (Rota), Kathryn Akeah, Kristi Burke, Lori Seaunier, Michael J Vanderhoof, David Watterson, Marlena Mulkins, K Diane Dolstad and anyone else who came out this morning and cleaned this up, the place looks as good as new within about 24 hours and the family won’t have to come home to hate,” Fournier stated in his comments.