Alert — and concerned — “06880” reader Dr. Edward Paul’s daughter Rachel Paul is a 2014 Staples High School graduate. She went to UCLA, then stayed after graduation for a job in Santa Monica.
The other night, she received what she and her father hope was a Halloween prank. But, he says, in light of last weekend’s Pittsburgh murders, she viewed what happened with extreme caution.
“Aside from the act,” he says, “it raised the concept that many of us can have enemies that we don’t know, and who don’t know us. But they hate us for no apparent reason except for who we are.”
He wants her story to speak for itself.
“Do you have any enemies?” I heard the officer ask through the phone. “Anyone you know who would want to do this?”
“No,” I thought. “Of course not.”
This is the conversation that has played over and over in my head since the evening of October 28.
My boyfriend and I were walking to my car after a relaxing weekend of watching movies, baking brownies and going to Halloween parties. My Honda Accord had been parallel parked on the corner of Whitworth Avenue and Almont Drive, in the heart of a Jewish neighborhood in Beverly Hills.
When we got to my car, I mindlessly went to open the back right door to toss in my backpack. As my hand reached for the handle, however, I noticed something.
I jumped back and gasped as I realized what was before me: the back right portion of my car was covered in streaks of what appears to be blood. Because it was a misty night, it seemed that some of the liquid was still wet. Other parts had coagulated.
Is this what blood looks like when it dries on a car? Is this what it streaks like when it rolls down a door? Those questions flooded through my brain, as I frantically looked around the car to see if there was a body.
While searching the area for some clue as to what happened, I noticed a hair tangled in the blood on the car. My stomach dropped as I thought about what had occurred just 2 days prior: a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh that left 11 innocent people dead.
Here I stood, in the middle of a predominantly Jewish community, staring at my car, with streaks of dark red liquid running down the sides.
After 3 1/2 hours the police arrived. They relieved me of my worst fear: It was not real blood. It appeared to be either a Halloween prank or some type of act of retaliation, which is why the officer asked if I had any enemies. Relieved and exhausted, I drove home at 1:30 in the morning.
As I stood in my parking garage scrubbing the fake blood off my car, something occurred to me: Simply by existing, by being who I am, I have made enemies.
I am a young Jewish woman with liberal political views and a fierce belief in social equality. As the events of this past weekend so clearly pointed out, these qualities alone are enough to provoke violence, even from strangers.
To whoever decided to paint my car with fake blood: Did you know that you were in a Jewish neighborhood? Did you think about the innocent lives that were taken a mere 2 days earlier, simply due to their religious beliefs?
Ignorance is a form of privilege. It is a luxury we cannot afford. You do not have to be old enough to vote in order to take a stand or have your own beliefs. If you are old enough to paint fake blood on a car, then you are old enough to know what is going on in our world.
Our society is filled with a level of hatred beyond anything I could have dreamed of as a child. We are not free to be who we are without judgment and violence from those around us. We must educate ourselves about the realities of our cultural and political climate, and we must truly think of the repercussions of our actions before we act upon them.
Parents: Please take time to talk to your children about values such as understanding, tolerance and acceptance. What may have seemed like a simple Halloween prank to those individuals that night carries so much more weight.
If anything I’ve said has resonated with you, please share my story. We need to work together to change our culture. If we all merely shake our heads and gasp at the horrors that occur around us, we will do nothing but watch passively as the moral fabric of our community disintegrates.
Listen to others even if they have different beliefs than you. Accept members of your community even if they have a different faith than you.
Live a life that will leave a legacy.