Toledoans call for a conversation on race after racial slurs found in city vehicle

Toledoans call for a conversation on race after racial slurs found in city vehicle
(Source: WTOL)

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz took time to address every City of Toledo employee Friday about the hand-drawn picture found in a city car.

A photo shows the drawing is of a swastika and reads, "I hate ____," with a racial slur.

In an email to city staff, Mayor Kapszukiewicz says that he was disgusted and appalled. The Mayor says his administration wants to create a culture that celebrates diversity specifically among employees.

In that email he says in part, "We will not tolerate discrimination, harassment, intimidation or threats of any kind toward any employee."

While the progress is welcomed, city leaders are saying more work needs to be done.

It's a hand-drawn note that has captured the attention of several in our community. The picture depicts hate and racial discrimination.

It deeply offended Councilwoman Yvonne Harper and she wanted to talk to the author.

"Ask them why?  What is the problem? Why do they hate me? Why do you dislike me, don't even know you," Councilwoman Harper questioned.

She immediately reached out to the Mayor demanding change.

While she's glad he is taking the issue seriously, she believes other need to as well. Councilwoman Harper says she believes it starts with education and communication.

"We need to educate ourselves," Councilwoman Harper said. "We have got to start somewhere education, talk about it and we can't put it to the side."

WTOL 11 tried to talk to Toledoans about racism in our community.

While WTOL 11 spoke with more than 10 people who all agreed we need to speak up about racism, only two were willing to do so on camera.

"Everyone needs to be treated equal," Gretchen Sepulveda, a mother from Northwood said. "You know we are human beings, we're not all the same."

"It's still an issue," Jennifer Discher, a Point Place resident said. "We need to announce it, we need to name it when we see it, we need to step forward and challenge people to do better."

All agree the process to end racism and judgment isn't easy and doesn't happen overnight, but say we need to be persistent because it is hurting people.

Councilwoman Harper says she won't stop fighting and hopes other city leaders will join her, especially in the case against the city employee's hand-drawn note.

"I would like this person to be made an example," Councilwoman Harper explained. "I would like that the mayor take the opportunity and make this a crime. This is a hate crime."

The mayor says employees in the Division of Water Distribution, the department car the note was found in, will discuss diversity and sensitivity training. He has also announced in the near future an anonymous survey about workplace culture will be released to city employees.

The mayor hopes it will paint a real picture of what is happening in offices and hopes the results will strengthen the work environment for employees and create policy changes as well.

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