‘It’s not who we are’: Salem mayor’s thoughts following racial hate crime

Local News

SALEM, S.D. (KELO) – We are hearing from the mayor of Salem for the first time since what is believed to be a hate crime in the southeast South Dakota community. The sheriff’s office is investigating after someone painted racial slurs and a white supremacist symbol on a man’s car.

“I was hurt. And then a little anger and then just sad. Because that’s not what this town is about. It’s not who we are.”

That’s how Salem mayor Shawn “Ace” English felt when he found out someone in his town had been the target of a hate crime.

“Racism exists everywhere but it’s not something we here in Salem, you know, we don’t promote that or condone it,” English said. “It’s just not who we are. Several people reached out to me, as soon as I opened the shop, people came in and they were like, ‘you know, we don’t, we won’t tolerate this. We’d like you to do what you can.'”

Josh Gadsden woke up Thursday morning to find his car vandalized with racial slurs and white supremacist symbols. For him, it was a different display of hate.

“Before it was just words,” Gadsden said. “And I don’t really care about words, I mean, it’s going to go in one ear and out the other. It doesn’t really bother me. But when it comes to action, that’s a totally different ballgame. So, I was, yeah, I was afraid for my kids.”

But that fear isn’t going to drive him away from the town he enjoys living in with his wife and three boys.

“Even though that there’s some people around here that is that way, not everybody is, and, like I said earlier, the support shows it,” Gadsden said. “So, I would say, like, to everybody that showed support, thank you, it’s been amazing for me and my family to see that.”

The McCook County Sheriff told KELOLAND News on Thursday that if the perpetrator is caught they would face felony vandalism and hate crime charges.

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