Neighbors in south Charlotte have rallied in support of a couple who found racist graffiti left at their home Friday.
In response to the graffiti, dozens of residents wrote kind messages in chalk Saturday in the neighborhood to counteract the vandalism and to spread love to the couple, Ayotunde and Toks Ayodele.
“It shows the love the community has for each other,” Toks Ayodele said. “Whoever is a bad egg among us will feel ashamed today.”
The graffiti was discovered in the Ayodeles’ driveway in the Orchid Hill neighborhood a few miles from Ballantyne.
“Trump! Get out N------!” the message said, spray painted in capital letters.
The couple, who are natives of Nigeria, said they had never experienced that level of hate in the 18 years they’ve lived in Charlotte. Ayotunde Ayodele is a physician and the couple owns a practice in Rock Hill. Police were notified of the graffiti, but no arrests have been made yet.
Jen Hall, the couple’s next door neighbor, planned the idea Friday night to write positive messages for the couple and encouraged others in the community to participate. Hall said she wanted the hateful message to be lost in a sea of positive ones.
By Saturday afternoon, Hall said 30 people had written nearly 70 notes such as “stop the hate, spread the love.” The messages were displayed in driveways and in surrounding streets, with many neighbors bringing their kids to participate.
“I hope after today that they at least know that a large majority of us are with them and are trying to show solidarity in a very effective way,” Hall said.
She said, like many residents, she was surprised and saddened to see the graffiti, and disgusted with the message’s connection to President Donald Trump’s name.
“It makes my heart sink,” Hall said. “No matter which side you’re on, for someone to use the president’s name in that way to justify their action is awful.”
The community planned on returning to the streets to write more messages Saturday evening in cooler temperatures. The residents started the hashtag “#CLTSpreadLove” and encouraged others to share positive notes on social media.
Toks Ayodele said she is grateful for the support from her neighbors, and said it’s an example of how communities should be.
“If more people come together and stand against hate, we can change the country around,” she said. “If more people denounce (hate), there’s hope for the country.”
LaVendrick Smith; 704-358-5101; @LaVendrickS