TACOMA -- Tacoma Police are investigating a hate crime targeted at an elderly black man who's called Tacoma home for nearly three decades.
“I’m 74 years old, I shouldn’t have to deal with this, so how do you describe how you feel when you come out of the bedroom and you’ve kicked the virus and you’re thankful that way, and you’re trying to mow the lawn and you see this?”
Tuesday morning was the first time Robert Batie left his house in nearly three months, after surviving COVID-19.
That’s when he saw his home had been vandalized, covered in racial slurs.
“As sick as I was, this made me sicker, it really did, and the virus almost killed me.”
The massive amount of graffiti was incredibly profane and targeted, all because of Robert’s race.
“For somebody to do something like that, that is hate. For somebody to hate me like that, I can’t believe it. What have I done and you think you know what have I done?”
Perhaps what makes the blatant racism all the more gut-wrenching is the fact that Robert has spent a lifetime fighting against it.
“It was pathetic, to think you could have something like this in this day in age, with what we’ve dealt with."
Robert recalls protesting in the 1960s hoping it would lead to equality.
"You think those protests were meaningful? They weren’t because you still got a policeman with his foot on this guys neck looking at us for 9 minutes and thinking it's alright to kill a black man. What’s the difference in that and hanging him from a tree? Strange fruit, Billie Holiday, strange fruit hanging from a tree, we’ve got strange fruit laying in the street with somebody foot on his neck."
The timing of it all, as so many across the nation and here in Washington protest for justice for George Floyd, is not lost on Robert. He says he can only hope there will be change.
"People fought so I wouldn’t have this on my wall, they lost their lives. It never ends, you would think that this would end ... how many jobs my wife has lost because of me."
But through something so ugly, Robert says he's seen incredible good. To his shock, after his nephew posted about the incident on social media, help showed up at his door.
"People came that I didn’t even know, there was a dozen people out here ... and look at it. Look at the job they did! It looks professional! It looks better than it did! And now they want to paint the whole house."
Robert says the love and kindness he's seen in the last 24 hours is far more powerful than the hate.
"I feel so much better that there are good people in the world, there really are."