A Black family in Texas says they're the victim of a hate crime after their two cars were set on fire and their house was vandalized with the phrase “Trump 20" last week, which they believe was a response to their "Black Lives Matter" sign.
Jayla Gipson, 36, told NBC News her 21-year-old son was using the restroom shortly after midnight last Wednesday when he smelled smoke, went outside and then made the discovery.
“It’s definitely a hate crime,” Gipson said. “‘Trump 2020’ was sprayed on our garage, our ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign was spray painted, and our cars were engulfed in flames.”
Police in Little Elm, a Dallas suburb, said officers and firefighters responded to Gipson’s house after a 911 call reporting a vehicle fire and vandalism on the home’s garage. No arrests or injuries were reported, but an investigation was underway, police said.
Photos from the scene show missing car parts, black soot surrounding the vehicles and front bumpers completely burned to ashes.
Gipson said she has never experienced any acts of hate since moving to Little Elm in 2017. She attributes Wednesday's incident to the “Black Lives Matter” sign the family placed in their front yard the day before Thanksgiving.
“It’s horrible,” she said. “Had that sign not been in my yard, I don’t think this would have ever been an incident for us.”
Gipson added that she could have lost her 12-year-old daughter, asleep in her room right next to the garage where the cars were ablaze.
Investigators have not yet determined a motive for the incident, nor have they determined if it was a hate crime.
A GoFundMe was set up by her neighbors to cover the cost of the family’s losses.
While Gipson said she was grateful for the outpouring of support from her community and friends, she said no one deserves this treatment, regardless of political views.
“My life does matter, and regardless of how anyone feels or what their beliefs or opinions is — it’s something that I’m voicing to the universe,” she said. “Black lives matter.’”