Concord police charge Pembroke tattoo artist in 2011 refugee graffiti incident
Vandals penned racist graffiti on the homes of three African refugee families in the South End of Concord, including at the Perley Street home of a Somali Bantu family on September 18, 2011.
(Alexander Cohn/ Monitor file)
Concord Police Chief John Duval, standing with Lt. Tim O'Malley, speaks at a press conference at the Concord Police Department on Tuesday regarding the arrest of Raymond Stevens of Concord for a 2011 graffiti incident targeting refugee homes in South Concord. "We were looking for a needle in a haystack," said Duval, who said Stevens was arraigned at around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.
(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
Raymond Stevens, 42, of Pembroke.
Updated 11:30 a.m.
Stevens has refused bail and is scheduled to be arraigned at 2 p.m. at Concord’s district court, Lt. Tim O’Malley said in a statement this morning. He is currently being held at the Merrimack County jail.
O’Malley called the arrest the result of a “multi-agency effort with vital assistance provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Attorney’s Office, the Merrimack County Attorney’s Office, the Nashua Police Department, and the Pembroke Police Department.”
Additionally, he indicated that Stevens was a resident of the South End neighborhood at the time it was targeted.
A Pembroke tattoo artist was arrested this morning for his alleged role in a 2011 graffiti incident in which three refugee homes in South Concord were defaced with racist, xenophobic messages, an event that sparked widespread outrage.
Raymond “Raynard” Stevens, 42, was apprehended around 9 a.m. at his home in Pembroke, Concord Police Chief John Duval said. Stevens has been charged with one Class B felony for criminal mischief, an offense that can bring a prison sentence of between one and seven years but could bring more in this case because of a state hate crime statute.
Stevens is currently in custody at the Concord Police Department, and is awaiting the arrival of a bail commissioner, Duval said. If he does not post bail, he will be arraigned early this afternoon, possibly around 2 p.m. The police department has scheduled a press conference on the arrest at 3 p.m.
Additional details will come later this morning in a prepared statement, Duval said.
The messages Stevens stands accused of composing were discovered on Sept. 18, 2011. Etched in black marker across the clapboard facades of the Perley and Downing street homes, they declared that the city had been sullied by the refugees’ arrivals, from Rwanda, Somalia and the Congo.
“Your subhuman culture has already brought many crimes linked to your mud people,” one read.
“You are not welcome here,” another began. “You lower the value and safety of our good town... You bring death wherever your cursed people go.”
The police believe Stevens also perpetrated a similar vandalism last August, at the home of a Somali family on Thompson Street. The method used and message written in that case – the occupants were described as “scum” and “primitive beasts,” and blamed for instigating crime – appeared similar to the 2011 vandalism, the police said at the time.
Stevens owns a tattoo and body piercing parlor in Nashua, called TaTToomB. He also sings in a heavy metal band, called Inverticrux, and uses the stage name RayPissed.
In addition, Stevens has a vocal Internet presence, most notably on Facebook, where he frequently posts artwork and videos targeting President Obama and various ethnic groups. On the site, he describes himself as an animal lover, an environmentalist, a “proud Aryan man” and “one outspoken Mother-F-er!!”
Stevens does not appear to have made any postings on or near the date of the vandalism, or if he did they have since been removed. In a Facebook post on Feb. 2, 2012, though, he shared some of his views on race: “I hate the argument that we cant help what race we were born into, and therefor you should not be proud of your race (unless your a minority). you are allowed to be proud of your race when you can look at your self and say . i am born in to a fine line of men and women that did stupendously miraculous things with the world around them.”
“if your culture produced many advances before you, it will be likely passed down into you,” he continued later in the post. “when your born into a third world nation, you wouldn’t understand that. being that you look at the people of your kind that came before you and see they built nearly nothing in the same time span of other more successful races.”
The 2011 incident galvanized much of the state and Concord community into action on the families’ behalf. Officials denounced the writings, calling then “malicious,” an “aberration” and “just plain wrong.” Neighbors sent flowers. Hundreds rallied in Concord to show support. A local business owner put up a cash reward for any information that might lead to an arrest.
Local, state and federal law enforcement officials worked to find a perpetrator. But after a year, the search appeared to have stalled. It’s unclear why or how authorities began eyeing Stevens as a suspect.
This post will be updated.
(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)