out: Erin Davies shows off her defaced car at the Lark
PHOTO: Chris Shields
Writing Is on the Car
Davies makes the best of a bad situation, letting the world
see and contemplate the hate speech scrawled on her vehicle
R GAY.” That is the message Sage College graduate student
Erin Davies saw scrawled across the hood of her Volkswagen
Bug when she went to get into her car on Eagle Street in Albany
last Wednesday morning. The side of the vehicle was scarred
by the slur “fag.” While the message on her hood was certainly
not news to her (she is an openly gay woman who sports a rainbow
pride sticker on her bumper), she did not appreciate seeing
the message splayed across her car in ugly, red, childlike
spray-painted scrawl. Not to mention that that morning, April
18, was the 11th annual National Day of Silence, which is
observed by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual student
community to protest the harassment and discrimination they
suffer because of their sexual orientation.
Davies assumed she had been the victim of a hate crime, due
to the existence of the rainbow sticker on her car, and she
contacted the Albany Police Department. According to Davies,
the responding officer did not agree with her assumption.
“They kept asking me who my enemies are,” she said.
But Davies said that she has not been in Albany long enough
to have enemies, and anyone who knows her would know that
the best way to annoy her would not likely be to tell her
she is gay. Metroland has learned of at least one other
person, also gay, who recently had a vehicle vandalized on
Eagle Street in a similar manner. However, that person did
not return calls in time for this story, and according to
the Albany Police Department, no other reports have been filed
for incidents in that neighborhood.
report was taken last Wednesday. Forensics took photos of
the vehicle and anti-gay slurs, and it is currently being
investigated by the detectives’ office,” said Albany Police
Department spokesman Detective James Miller, who noted that
so far no one else in the neighborhood has come forward.
Davies went about dealing with the vandalism as most people
would. She contacted her insurance company, secured a rental
car and tried to put the incident behind her. But then something
thought to myself, I’m not going to be silenced,” said Davies
as she stood in front of her apartment on Madison Avenue on
Monday waiting for her insurance assessor to come appraise
the damage done to her car. So Davies returned her rental
car early and decided to drive her defaced car, slurs and
all, to Sage College, where she attends school.
School officials informed her that they received more than
50 calls about her car that day. It was at that point that
Davies realized how much effect the vandalism had not only
on her, but also on her community. Not only did Davies decide
to drive her car to work, she also decided to actively seek
out the opinions of others and document their reactions to
her vandalized car by making a documentary film. Davies had
her story featured on Capital News 9.
you think this puts me at further risk?” Davies asked the
Geico representative, who had seen her story on Capital News
9. “Probably,” he nodded. “I would take it off my car,” he
Since that Wednesday morning when Davies found her car defaced,
she claims to have received nothing but support, whether from
notes left on her car or comments made by passersby. “One
woman stopped me and said, ‘I saw you on the news last night.
What you’re doing takes a lot of guts,’ ” said Davies.
While Davies has received support, she said that a lot of
people say that if they were in that position, they would
do everything they could to avoid further confrontation. They
say that they would remove the rainbow sticker and quickly
remove the slurs from their cars. On the other hand, Cheryl
VanDemark, coordinator of education programs at Sage College,
and Davies’ advisor, said that she fully supports Davies’
quest to call attention to bigotry.
is a very strong individual, for her to turn such a negative
into a positive thing,” VanDemark said. “If it had happened
to any typical individual, they would have been hesitant to
drive it, but Erin is strong enough to know how other people
think, to know how this might effect other people.”
Besides her documentary, Davies has also created the Web sites
fagbug.com and myspace.com.fagbug. She also hopes to sell
bumper stickers with rainbow-colored VW bugs and T-shirts
emblazoned with the “fagbug” to fund her documentary.
There will be a fagbug fund-raiser held sometime this Sunday
in Albany. The original plan was to hold a fund-raiser at
the Hill Street Café, but Davies said the owner wanted to
raise $10 for Davies (the amount she was told it cost another
person to remove graffiti from their car) and give the rest
of the money raised to an appropriate charity. The final quote
for damage to the car is somewhere around $350, Davies claimed.
Davies does not plan to remove the graffiti anytime soon,
but she would, however, like to raise money for her documentary.
Now Davies plans to drive cross-country gathering responses
to her vandalized car. In the meantime, she hopes that enough
people will put rainbow stickers on their cars so that no
one in Albany will be targeted as she was.
this week, President George W. Bush likened himself
to America’s 16th president, Abraham—Honest Abe—Lincoln.
Bush, who was speaking with a group of seniors
and advocacy-group leaders after a meeting on
Medicare drug benefits, said that both he and
the former president stood by their principles
in the face of criticism during wartime. When
he showed the group a portrait of Honest Abe,
Bush noted how Lincoln was unpopular during the
Civil War but added, “Look what would have happened
to history,” if Lincoln had abandoned his mission.
Crow, Let Me Shake Your Hand—er, Maybe Not
Sheryl Crow has been fighting the good fight in
recent weeks, touring the country in a biodiesel
bus as part of a “Stop Global Warming College
Tour.” According to the Agence France-Presse,
on the way she dropped helpful hints such as “a
bottom-up solution to wipe away global warming”
by using only one square of toilet paper per bathroom
visit. While in Washington, D.C., she also was
caught picking a fight about global warming with
White House big dog Karl Rove during the White
House Correspondents’ Association dinner.
Good Friend, the Terrorist
from Cuba and Venezuela voiced their outrage this
past week when a U.S. court released Cuban refugee
Luis Posada Carriles. Posada Carriles, a well-known
anti-Castro militant, has been sought for decades
in connection to the 1976 terrorist bombing of
a Cuban airliner in which 73 people died. “Posada
was being tried, formally accused over 20 years
ago by another Venezuelan government,” said Cuban
National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon. “Venezuelan
courts that have been demanding him ever since
then.” Many in the international community say
the refusal to hand over Posada Carriles typifies
the United States’ hypocritical stance on just
who is defined as a “terrorist.”
is that happens to a person’s memory whenever
they go before a Senate Judiciary Committee? Attorney
General Alberto Gonzales, an otherwise seemingly
alert man, claimed more than 50 times on April
19 that he couldn’t recall the events that led
to the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys during
the five-hour grilling he received from Democratic
and Republican senators.
York state Gov. Eliot Spitzer gave the keynote speech at Reform
NY Day 2007 on Monday (April 23) at the Hart Theatre in the
Egg in Albany. Hundreds of good-government activists from
across the state came together at the Capitol to call for
legislators to act upon legislative re- districting, government
transparency, and campaign-finance reform, among other issues.
loose ends this week-