A gay Hispanic man and his partner in Gilbert, Arizona say that their family, which includes a disabled daughter, has been targeted with a series of hate crimes that amount to “terrorism” — and they worry that the police are not taking their case seriously.
“I truthfully believe it’s because we’re a gay couple and because I’m Hispanic,” Felix Bermea told Raw Story. “There’s no doubt whatsoever in my mind that this is a hate crime.”
Over the past 10 weeks, Bermea has had to call the Gilbert police about a dozen times regarding repeated attacks that are only escalating.
It began with profane graffiti on cars and the street outside the home. Then the perpetrators began setting bushes on fire, including one right up against the stucco house. Next, someone began banging on doors and even their disabled daughter’s window. And then last week, the house was broken into and profanity was scrawled in the kitchen and several of the children’s rooms.
“Somebody had used the marker and wrote ‘ass’ on the [kitchen] island of our house,” Bermea recalled. “In my son’s room, they wrote ‘bitch.’ In my daughter’s room, they wrote ‘hell.’ You know, these are not words — young kids that want to create problems, they’re usually like, ‘fuck you’ or ‘asshole.’ To me, those are specific words that they are using, hateful words.”
“Somebody has invested time in watching us. They’re investing time. It is not just kids having a good time. It’s not. They are investing time and terrorizing my kids.”
To make matters worse, the couple feels that the Gilbert Police Department has not moved quickly enough to investigate the case. The family was only assigned a detective last week after they complained to the department’s internal affairs.
“You got to act really dumb to pretend something’s not happening,” Bermea said, explaining that the police told him that the crimes were not occurring anywhere else in the neighborhood. “You really have to reach to say that this is not a targeted family.”
“I feel like they’re not taking it seriously,” he added. “I want that this community, who is predominately Mormon, I want them to feel pressured that they are obligated to take care of everybody in this community.”
For now, Bermea and his partner are taking extra precautions by trying to make sure an adult is at the home at all times. The family spent part of the weekend at another location. And after returning home, the children have all been sleeping in the living room.
Bermea said he just wants the police to realize that “lives are at risk” because “I don’t want my kids to be a statistic.”
“Imagine how 9-year-old girl, who is disabled, who can barely walk, feels when they are banging on her door. My daughter was shaking in her boots when I talked to her on Friday.”
“I want the Gilbert police to feel pressure,” Bermea concluded. “You tell me that 10 family members in this neighborhood, if they had banging on the doors, vandalism on the cars, burning bushes, somebody breaking into the house — tell me if 10 houses had this same incident that this whole neighborhood wouldn’t be up in arms. So why would there not be consideration even if it’s just one?”
The Gilbert police detective assigned to the case could not comment and the public information office did not return calls by the time of publication.
Update (11:45 a.m. ET): A spokesman for the Gilbert Police Department told Raw Story that they were taking the crimes “very seriously,” but could not say more about the case.
Watch this video from KPNX, broadcast May 29, 2012.