The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Homeless Man Charged Over N-Word Graffiti In West Loop [Updated]

By Stephen Gossett in News on May 6, 2017 11:00PM

William Floyd Jr. / Chicago Police Department
A homeless man was charged after spray painting racially charged graffiti on a West Loop sidewalk, according to police and reports. The arrest was announced by police on Saturday, following a week in which multiple incidents of racially derogatory graffiti were seen in the area.

William Floyd Jr., 39, faces one felony count of criminal damage to government property, police said. He was identified as the person who spray painted a city sidewalk with "offense graffiti [sic]" sometime in the overnight hours between Thursday and Friday, in the 100 block of S. Halsted St., according to police.

Authorities said that Floyd was spotted marking graffiti that contained the N-word outside a Walgreens by store employees, via surveillance video, in the West Loop, according to the Tribune. Floyd, a homeless man whose listed address is that of a shelter in North Lawndale, was ordered held in lieu of $10,000 bail on Saturday. A police report states that Floyd told officers he had spray painted something but couldn't remember what it was, the Trib reports. Employees "had had several previous run-ins with Floyd," according to the paper.

There were multiple instances of racially charged graffiti reported previously in the week in the West Loop neighborhood, although police did not specify in a release if Floyd is also believed to have been responsible for those specific incidents.

Residents on Thursday spotted tags that read “No N---ers” and “No N----r” on Monroe Street sidewalks—one on the south side of the street, one on the north—near the Halsted block where police say Floyd was seen spray painting. He was arrested in the nearby 700 block of W. Monroe St. on Friday afternoon, at 12:35 p.m., police said. Those tags—which Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (Ward 27) criticized as "very, very distasteful" in speaking with Chicagoist this week—were removed by the Department of Streets and Sanitation on Friday.

Those graffiti were seen roughly one block south from where graffiti that read "KKK" was spotted just one day prior. The "KKK" vandalism was noticed on Wednesday night by residents, scrawled across three traffic safety barriers on Madison Street, also near the highway ramp. That tag was also removed by the city.

After news emerged that at least one instance of N-word graffiti was allegedly committed by Floyd, who is black, a member of the True West Loop community board urged understanding of a broader context. User Moshe Tamssot posted on the page—which members had used to alert one another of vandalism they spotted—a link to a history of the slur, by the African American Registry.

The N-word, it reads in part, "like the false impressions it incorporates and means, puts down Blacks, and rationalizes their abuse. The use of the word or its alternatives by Blacks has not lessened its hurt. This is not surprising in a racial hierarchy four centuries old, shaping the historical relationship between European Americans and African Americans. Anti-Black attitudes, motives, values, and behavior continue."

This post has been updated.