Berea Hate Crime Rallies Residents

Jul 25, 2011

An interracial couple in Berea says they’re overwhelmed by community support since they were victimized by a hate crime two weeks ago. Melanie Stamper, who is white, and her African-American boyfriend, Damon Dunson, awoke to find their vehicles spray painted with racial slurs. Stamper says she’s been surprised by the response.

“People started coming out of the community and just sheltering us and comforting us and doing all that they could to let us know that they’re not going to stand for, it’s intolerable. We’re not going to tolerate it in our town. Everyone should be treated equal no matter you know what their race, creed, color, religion, sexual orientation, anything should be,” said Stamper.

Stamper says the couple has no plans to leave Berea. On the contrary, she says the positive community response has encouraged the couple to stay and work for the rights of others. 

The incident sparked support and comfort from dozens of Bereans, along with donations of money to restore their cars. Another interracial couple, Adanma Barton and husband Shane are helping. Adanma, who’s a professor at Berea College, says the crime strengthened her resolve to stay in the Madison County town.

“I believe there’s a need, not only because of the students that I have but just with the community to see that this type of behavior, you know, it’s not going to drive people away. If anything, it makes me want to find more people in the community that we can come together in positivity and try to do something to combat the kind of negativity that we’ve experienced,” said Barton.

The Bartons are visiting Berea businesses, asking them to display a poster that reads, “RACISM, NOT IN OUR TOWN.”