Christy Goodman, Washington Post, September 20, 2007
A large sign denouncing Prince William County’s “racism” is causing a stir in Manassas.
The sign, 12 feet high by 40 feet long, was hung at 9500 Liberty Street, faces the Manassas Virginia Railway Express station and calls on Prince William to “stop your racism to Hispanics.” The red and black spray-painted lettering reads, “When our brothers & [sic]; sons are fighting and dying in Iraq, here you are separating our families. . . We are the working force of America. We diserve [sic] the respect of all civilized people of America.”
Monica Casper, also of Manassas, said she was “aghast” when she saw the sign. She read through the message in capital letters, dismissing each of its claims. “I clean my own house,” she said. “My husband cleans his own shoes.”
A man on a loud motorcycle rumbled past and conveyed his displeasure at the sign with an obscene gesture.
“I just don’t get it,” Casper continued. “I’m not a racist. My grandparents were immigrants. But they came here through legal channels: Ellis Island.”
The sign was erected Saturday at noon on the last wall of a recently demolished house at Liberty and Prince William streets, within the historic district of Old Town Manassas. The property owner, Gaudencio Fernandez, said members of the Hispanic community had asked if he would leave one wall standing so they could hang the sign. He declined to say who made the request but said it was not Mexicans Without Borders, a local immigrant support group.
A framed rebuttal was left in Fernandez’s yard Tuesday morning, placed near an empty beer bottle. The 10-inch-by-18-inch white paper read, “There are two [sic] many of you over here and half don’t belong here. This is the USA.”