DES MOINES — When Kirsten Grant returned home from work Sunday afternoon, she found a racist message written on her front door in permanent marker.
"White power" was scrawled in giant letters on the door of her apartment at Southern Park Apartments on Payton Avenue, where she lives with her 5-month-old son and her boyfriend.
Grant, 20, called her mother and then called the police.
"It's hurtful and disrespectful," Grant, who is black, told the Register. "I pay my rent the same as everybody else. Why do I have to have 'white power' on my door? … I'm no different than anybody else."
While the message did not directly reference the recent presidential election, both Grant and her mother said they believe the national political climate influenced this vandalism. Several other cases of racist vandalism reported locally and nationally have referenced President-elect Donald Trump's name or slogans he used during his campaign.
"This election seems to bring it out in people. … We've lived in this area all of our lives, and we've never had this kind of stuff going on," said Penny Grant, Kirsten's mother, who is white.
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Grant, who has lived in that apartment for about a year, said she would occasionally hear some "sly comments" about her family's race, but this was the first major display of racism she has experienced. She added that a few days before the vandalism, someone had slipped a handwritten note under her door explaining how to take out garbage. She did not know what could have motivated the note or whether it was connected to the vandalism.
Police spoke with Grant and took photos of the vandalism, according to a Des Moines police report, which lists no suspects. The case remains under investigation.
"I've been here for four years, and this has never, ever happened before," said Peggy Danielson, on-site apartment manager for the building where Grant lives. "We don't want this kind of thing to happen. … It's uncalled for."
The vandalism still remained on Grant's door Monday afternoon, but Danielson said in a phone interview that she planned to paint over it soon.
Similar racist vandalism has recently been reported in unrelated cases in Iowa.
Last week, Drake University suspended four students for vandalizing a Latina student's dorm room door with racist, sexist and political messages, including "make a wall," referencing a wall between the U.S. and Mexico proposed by Trump, and "women are unfit to be president." Last month in Waterloo, the name "Trump" was spray-painted on a mosque.
In an interview with CBS' 60 Minutes, on Sunday, Trump responded to recent reports of racism and harassment by telling the perpetrators of these crimes to "Stop it."
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes, has recorded more than 200 complaints since the election.
"There's been more of an uproar (regarding racism) since the election," Grant said. She said some of her black friends have received openly racist messages on Facebook, with some referencing Trump. "I don't know why that's breeding or why people think that's OK. ... But that's never OK, ever."
Follow Charly Haley on Twitter: @charlyhaley
The Des Moines Register