Darnell Byrd McPherson, the mayor of Lamar, South Carolina, believed she was victimized by a racist hate crime earlier this month when she found her and her husband’s cars covered in a “yellow, sticky substance.”
However, local authorities and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) have since confirmed that there was no crime committed, determining the “yellow, sticky substance” to be pollen.
Nonetheless, McPherson feels she was victimized for the color of her skin. Perhaps by flowers and bees.
“My husband went out to the car to get some things out of the garage,” the volunteer mayor recalled to Newsweek. “He says, ‘Somebody’s painted your car!’”
“They started rubbing it,” McPherson continued, “and it was this yellow, sticky substance. So it was like, What is this? … It looked like little pebbles.”
To McPherson, this was a clear hate crime due to the history of the town: “I likened it as a hate crime because No. 1, there’s a history in our town of Lamar,” she said.
“It ignited some fear in my spirit. My God, who would do that?” she asked, adding, “It was something; it was just unnerving to me.”
As noted by Newsweek, McPherson clarified “that there were no words or symbols drawn on the cars. The cars were parked in the street near the end of the couple’s driveway, a block and a half from Lamar’s downtown.”
McPherson had both cars pressure-washed twice the day after the incident.
“The substance wasn’t saved and the cars were actually cleaned—pressure-washed twice—there was no substance, and so they didn’t have it for the investigation,” said the mayor.
Darlington County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Robby Kilgo told Newsweek his team found the substance “to be pollen” and that “[t]here was no reason for us to collect a sample.”
“The report that was taken included details of an examination by two sheriff’s officials (a sergeant and a deputy) ‘immediately came to the conclusion that the substance had a yellowish tint to it and that it’s a type of powder similar to pollen,’” reports Newsweek.
Though local authorities found no evidence to support McPherson’s suspicions of a hate crime, upon the mayor’s insistence that she was victimized, SLED got involved in the case. The agency quickly came to the same conclusion as local authorities and failed to even open an investigation.
“We reviewed the incident report, but we did not open a formal investigation” because they “did not believe a crime occurred,” said a spokeswoman for SLED.
McPherson claims that local law enforcement told her, “There’s rumors out there that they’re going to assassinate you.”
“That’s a federal crime,” said the mayor.
“What do we need to do in Lamar? I say, we need to come together,” McPherson said. “There should be something else … But there’s always these remnants of racism.”
“I don’t care about a car,” she added. “What I want is my life.”