The message was as plain as day, Davenport Alderman Sheilia Burrage said.

When she stepped out her front door Sunday morning to grab the newspaper, she looked across the street and caught a glimpse of three words spray painted on a neighbor’s car.

“I hate —” the message said, with the third word a racial slur.

“It was just uncalled for,” Burrage said.

The 5th Ward alderwoman immediately called police and reported a hate crime. Her’s is one of two black households in the 2300 block of Jefferson Avenue. She currently is the only black City Council member.

She said the graffiti must have been painted sometime between midnight Saturday and 6 a.m. Sunday. When she walked out to the car to take pictures, she saw what may have occurred based on tracks still fresh in the snow.

Two pulled up in a vehicle and the passenger got out to spray paint the neighbor’s car, she said. A van parked down the street was hit with the same hate-filled message.

The owner of the car that was spray painted declined to be interviewed.

Burrage knows all of her neighbors and thinks that no one on her block could have committed the crime.

“I don’t know what neighborhood they came out of, but they came a long way to do this,” she said.

Police are investigating two reports of criminal damage in the neighborhood where graffiti included racial slurs, Davenport Assistant Police Chief Don Schaeffer said.

“This is an intolerable crime,” he said.

Police are seeking help finding the suspects. Schaeffer asks anyone with information to call the Police Department at 563-326-7979 or 563-326-7785.

Scott County Attorney Mike Walton said the incidents could fall under a hate crime. He said a hate crime is an act of assault, arson, criminal mischief or trespass committed against someone because of race, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, age or disability.

Graffiti is classified under criminal mischief, a serious misdemeanor, he said. If it’s found that the suspects also committed a hate crime, the criminal mischief charge is enhanced to an aggravated misdemeanor.

Serving on the city council, Burrage said she’s familiar with graffiti in other parts of Davenport, especially gang graffiti. She said graffiti is often found on concrete walls in alleys and on the sides of commercial buildings.

She’s never seen a vehicle parked on a residential street spray painted with a racial slur, and she’s never before been the victim of this type of hate crime, she said.

“I grew up here,” she said. “I thought I lived in one of the most livable neighborhoods. That was until Saturday. Then all of the sudden, a whirlwind. Where did this come from?”

At first she was shocked, she said. Then she felt upset, and now she feels scared.

“I don’t know what troubled lives they’re leading,” she said. “It’s like being a big bully, a cowardly bully. It’s a subtle, cowardly act.”


(11) comments


Yes this and all racial slurs are disgusting, but the group who uses this slur the most (if it is what i think it is) are the very people who claim to be offended by it. That needs to be addressed just as much as any other group using it.


Well, I don't care what you may think personally. But, I don't use the word and I am offended by it. I am a black woman and I take offense to anyone using the term "N". Just because someone of my race uses the word doesn't mean all blacks agree with its use. Don't get it twisted "G."


I don't have anything twisted. Do you make as big of a deal when you hear black people say it as you do when other people say it? I doubt it.

senor citizen

This is not graffiti, but an obscenity. All people should be past this by now. Race is nothing to be proud or ashamed of, as we had no choice in the matter. All the federal hate laws in the world will not deter the ignorant and the worthless taking up valuable space among us. If it would I'd be the first to cheer passing more laws. It a pity common sense is uncommon. My sombrero tips to a classy lady.


My sons vehicle was vandalized that same night. The police said that the person who vandalized his vehicle is same person or persons who spray painted those hate words on the cars talked about here and that the person(s) who did this were on a bike. The police followed the bike tracks for awhile. I hope they find whoever did this because they need to pay for all the damage to these vehicles. They dumped a very large jug of hydrolic fluid all over the inside of my sons truck and then threw pasta noodles all over inside the truck. There were apparently many cars vandalized in various ways as well as a garage that had hydrolic fluid thrown all over it as well.


Racial hate and inequality is still alive and well in the hearts of many in Iowa. Yes, it is sad! But, it will not end until equality is shown in ALL parts of the Quad Cities and across the USA. It is seen throughout politics, employment, schools and churches. Sunday mornings is one of the most segregated times in the US.
I was invited to attend a church in Davenport last year by one of its Caucasian members. I love everyone, regardless of race. So, I had no problem excepting the invitation. I felt so unwelcome in this church it made me sick. I wretch out to shake the pastors hand and he proceeded to shake one of his church members hand instead. How can someone claim to love a God that gives love to ALL and yet hate his/her brother whom he sees every day?
It is sad that someone still has to deal with racial hate in this day and age. Stop teaching this ugly disease to your children and it will stop. Start treating everyone as equal under the laws of the land and it will stop. Stop discriminating in the housing market and it will stop. When you send the signal that it is "ok" to discriminate in any sector of America and it will stop. Start punishing those responsible for HATE crimes and it will stop.
I notice many hate filled comments on the QC Times, that are allowed to continue, this should stop as well.
When you use terms that are demeaning to African Americans, you are only making America look bad as a whole. We are Americans!!! We have the right to live where we want, how we want (with respect to our neighbors of all races) and with dignity.
Yes, there are bad apples in every race, I know this. But, should people be singled out because of the color of their skin? Of course not! Should I dislike all Caucasians because a few treated me badly? Of course not! I thank God I live in a racially divided neighborhood. I thank God I attended a racially equal school system. This has made me except individuals for who THEY are and not judge them based on the color of their skin. Sheila Burrage is an asset to the city of Davenport. She should be comfortable to live anyplace in the Quad Cities that she so desires, without this mess, as well as, any other African American person. Shame on those that did this and I hope they are found and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. No slaps on the wrist to any of them for their crimes. This is clearly a hate crime and should be treated as such. This is a federal offense and they should be sent to a federal prison and not given probation. How will they ever learn to follow the law if the law doesn't hold them accountable?

Cheryl Lawrence

Disgusting! I hope the person/ that did this are caught, and their punishment should be something appropriate . . i.e. going around and removing all gang tagging, hate crime sprayings for a year, winter included! I bet they would think about that again when it is 10 degrees out and they are scrubbing paint off a building!

And congrats to Ms. Burrage for doing a fine job for the City of Davenport!


This is absolutely disgusting. I'm sorry this happened to her and her neighbors.

pta mom

She is doing a great job so far---really making an effort to communicate with and involve her constituents.

Alderman Bill Edmond

When I found out about this a couple of hours ago, I was outraged. How dare you! This lady is one of my colleagues. All she wants to do is serve the citizens of Davenport. She does not deserve this kind of treatment. Maybe you differ with her political views, but this is not the way you articulate that. She and I belong to different political parties, but she has never been anything but a lady in her work on the city council and she, like me, wants only what is best for Davenport residents.


Thank you Alderman Edmond for speaking out against this sickness. Many speak on racial issues incognito. But, you have done so in a very dignified way. I applaud you!

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