The small town of Albion was rocked by racist graffiti, someone painted swastikas on windows of empty stores downtown some time early Tuesday morning.
"My first reaction when I heard about it was, 'Oh boy, it finally has come to Albion," Cheryl Krause, a member of the Albion City Council, said. "Not that it hasn't been here before, not that we haven't had incidents, just like any other city, but this time it was very blatant. It's almost like people thought, "This is a good time, everybody else is protesting, why don't I do something?'"
Within hours, the paint was cleaned from the windows, but, the emotional scars of the community, those will take longer to heal. "The city heals by taking a stand and moving towards action," Sally Walker, the Albion College Vice President for Student Affairs, said.
The Albion Ministerial Association put together a rally as part of that action, a move President and Reverend Donald Phillips says set the tone for the city. "They did it at night when nobody was watching, so I wanted to make sure when people were watching in the daylight we could define who we are, what we stand for, what we're all about."
Phillips and other religious leaders joined up with representatives from Albion College, the school district, and the city to tell the group that Albion will respond to the hate with positivity. "It takes bold responses and responses of love," Phillips said. "It's not enough just to be angry, it's not enough just to be angry and upset, change that, channel that energy into something and hopefully something positive."
Phillips says this rally is the first way the city has shown its love and inclusiveness since the graffiti was left, but it certainly will not be the last.