SANTA BARBARA (AP) — The Santa Barbara News-Press building was defaced with paint and graffiti after the paper referred to immigrants as “illegals” in a front-page headline.
Police were investigating the vandalism that occurred Wednesday night or Thursday morning.
In addition to apparent paintball splatters, the entrance to the building was spray-painted with graffiti that read: “Fight back” and “The border is illegal not the people who cross it.” Cleaning crews went to the building to wash off the paint.
The paper on Saturday printed a story about a California law taking effect that allows people who are in the country illegally to apply for driver’s licenses.
The page had a photo of people waiting in line at a Department of Motor Vehicles office with the headline: “Illegals Line Up for Driver’s Licenses.
The headline drew intense criticism.
“Not only is snapping a photo of a group of Latinos and calling them illegal wrong and ignorant, it also creates a hostile environment for the largest ethnic community in the state,” said a petition on the website change.org.
The petition, which had 2,500 supporters as of Thursday, called on the paper to retract the story and apologize for what it terms “racist and hateful” language.
A demonstration also was planned for Thursday evening in front of the News-Press building.
Donald K. Katich, the News-Press director of news operations, said in a statement that the newspaper has used the term for nearly 10 years.
“It is an appropriate term in describing someone as ‘illegal’ if they are in this country illegally,” he said, adding, “When breaking the law becomes the norm, America is no better than other lawless nations.”