We gonna kill GOV. BROWN 2/14/11 was scrawled on this Santa Ana wall, which… (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles…)
The first reports came in early last week. Someone had scrawled a death threat to parishioners on the walkway of a Catholic church in Irvine. Just miles away in Anaheim, a similar message was painted on a sidewall at St. Boniface Catholic Church.
For two weeks, Orange County cities have seen a spate of graffiti calling on people to kill Catholics, blacks, Asians and Latinos. Then, on Thursday someone painted graffiti in Santa Ana threatening to kill Gov. Jerry Brown on Valentine's Day.
"Every community experiences some form of graffiti," said Anaheim Police Sgt. Rick Martinez, "but to see hateful messages like this is rare, especially when you're dealing with the message of killing added to religion, ethnicities and now aimed at a politician."
"It's more than just a little graffiti," said Rusty Kennedy, executive director of the Orange County Human Relations Committee. "This is graffiti that has the intent of terrifying and scaring a specific group of people…it's being targeted at people in an effort to pick them out and bully them."
There are similarities in the style and poor spelling of the graffiti and authorities are investigating whether it was the work of the same person or group, said Cpl. Anthony Bertagna of the Santa Ana Police Department.
Investigators are trying to determine whether the graffiti constitutes a criminal threat under state penal codes that prohibit threats against public officials and threats to injure or kill someone, even if there is no intent to carry out the threat.
Employees of the Orange County Housing Authority found racist threats scrawled at the entrance of the Santa Ana office. Messages scrawled near stores in Brea targeted blacks and Chinese, and one in East Anaheim targeted Mexicans, Asians and blacks.
At least nine incidents of similar graffiti, often in black paint with misspellings and advocating violent death, were reported in the last two weeks, before the threats against Brown were discovered.
The graffiti threatening the governor were discovered in Santa Ana on Thursday morning, written on two walls several blocks apart. One message, on a whitewashed brick wall on well-traveled Segerstrom Avenue, read "26 MORE DAYS 4 BROWN" in black and red paint. A swastika was painted next to it and the number 27 had been crossed out and replaced with 26.
The other read "We gonna kill GOV. BROWN 2/14/11."
The messages were removed after authorities wrapped up their on-site investigation. The California Highway Patrol, which is responsible for protecting the governor, is also investigating, said Bertagna. A spokeswoman for the CHP would not comment on the specifics of the investigation.
It's been nearly two weeks since parishioners arrived to face the hateful message at St. Boniface. The words were removed soon after, but they shocked and upset those who saw them or learned of them later, said Ryan Lilyengren, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange.
"We're hoping and praying it doesn't happen again," he said.