LONG BEACH (CBSLA.com) A Long Beach man whose van was vandalized when someone spray painted the word "illegal" on it, says he didn't realize he was dealing with a possible hate crime.
Joe Solis told CBS2's Amy Johnson that, at first, he thought someone might have concluded his van was parked illegally.
"It did open my eyes to this negative thing that's out there," Solis said.
He found the word "illegal" spray painted in green on his bright yellow Volkswagen van Sunday morning. The van is affectionately known as "Sunshine Da Dream."
"I'm not illegal," Solis says, "I'm six generations deep."
He blames the current climate in politics for the vandalism.
"It's not right. It's not their job to do that," Solis says, "It's not their job to be the government. Let the government do their thing."
The act of vandalism shocked Solis' neighbors.
"It's horrible," said Shari Verner, "and so shocking. That's just not how our neighborhood rolls. We're very mixed here."
Another car in the neighborhood and a banner at the Belmont Heights United Methodist Church were also hit.
"It breaks my heart that people are so disrespectful of other people's property, " said Pastor Cheryl Kelly. "Whether it's the church of someone's van."
Solis said the act of vandalism has translated into a lot of positivity around the neighborhood.
"All my neighbors have been coming through," Solis says, "the neighbors I used to wave to, have been coming over to shake my hand. I'm getting notes on my door. Someone drives up to me and gives me a note that says 'Hey, we love you in our neighborhood and this shouldn't happen."
If you have any information about the vandalism, you're asked to please call the Long Beach Police Department.
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