A well-maintained yellow 1971 Volkswagens Bus was vandalized in Long Beach, CA this week, along with a VW Beetle. The bus, owned by local air-cooled enthusiast Joe Solis, had the word “ILLEGAL” spray-painted on its side. Solis, a sixth-generation American, at first thought maybe he’d parked the car illegally. It was only later that he realized this was likely a hate crime.
Solis is of Mexican-Jewish ancestry, and he said that his family has been in America so long that the idea of “ILLEGAL” being applied to him as opposed to some parking infraction seemed impossible. As Solis told the Long Beach Press-Telegram:
“I didn’t understand it at first because it said ‘illegal’ on it and I couldn’t put two and two together.”
The other car in the neighborhood vandalized was a Volkswagen Beetle, also tagged with “ILLEGAL.” The owner, Travis Heit, describes himself as white.
The bright side to this story is that Solis’ neighbors really came through to support him, leaving him supportive notes, and the local shop that cleaned the graffiti off his Microbus did the job for free.
Long Beach police suspect this was a “bias crime,” and police asked that anyone with information about the vandalism call detectives at (562) 570-7250.
This is a pretty fucked-up story for a lot of reasons, the least of which is the damage to that lovely old VW bus. Try to be better, people.