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UPDATE: Hate crime targets Troutdale homeowner
The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office is investigating a bias crime reported Tuesday, March 28, in Troutdale.
Hasel Afshar, 33, who was born in Iran but has lived in America since 2010, returned from a three-day vacation in Canada to find his two-story home on Southeast 26th Court ransacked, the walls coated in racist epithets. The graffiti calls Afshar a "terrorist" and orders the "Muslim" to "get out."
Afshar isn't Muslim. He's Baha'i.
"I'm not Muslim," he explains. "I just grow a beard."
The vandals left a note on Afshar's coffee table, weighed down with seven .45 caliber bullets arranged in the shape of a cross.
'"If I see you here next month, I will shoot you and burn your house,'" the note reads, according to Afshar.
He doesn't know how long it will take to clean up his home. Walls are covered in red paint, couch cushions deliberately torn and his belongings scattered.
In a week or two, once he finishes cleaning up, Afshar says he will sell his home and leave the United States. He has friends in Australia and Canada who he says never experience discrimination like this.
He doesn't have a plan, but he hopes living in an apartment might be safer. He doesn't care if he loses money selling the property he has owned since 2006.
"I'm not going to be a hero and stay here and fight about it." Afshar says. "I'm not going to sit here and wait for someone to shoot me."
This isn't the immigrant's first experience with prejudice.
In Iran, a Muslim-majority country, Afshar says police entered his family home, stole their books and arbitrarily arrested members of the Baha'i faith community.
Later, after his arrival in the United States, Afshar says he was punched in the face while living in California, in what he describes as a racially motivated incident.
He goes on to describe conflicts with a former supervisor at the Portland-based company where Afshar works as a machine operator, cutting out mailers and business cards.
More recently, Afshar says he was parking outside a Plaid Pantry when a man in a baseball cap pulled up in a white construction van.
"Get the (expletive) out of America! We don't want you here," the man shouted Tuesday morning, March 7. Afshar now wonders if the man followed him home.
Other losses are more personal.
The person, or people, involved in the home invasion broke open a safe in Afshar's closet, stealing a few Iranian coins he intended to give to his fiancée. The coins aren't worth much here, but it's traditional for Iranian men to give their brides-to-be metal currency. Afshar said his mother will mail him some replacements.
When he first discovered the damage to his home, Afshar's heart was beating so quickly an emergency medical technician asked if he needed to go to the hospital.
He credits his neighbors for helping him search the home for intruders before first responders arrived, and he describes police as being helpful and nice.
"I can sit here and cry and nothing (is) going to be fixed," he says. "I have to be strong and just repair my house again."
Lt. Chad Gaidos says a full investigation has been launched.
"He is of Middle Eastern descent and that's kind of the tie-in here, that's why we're doing it or why we're concerned about it," he said in a phone interview.
Another neighbor, who arrived in a pickup, described the situation as "unacceptable."
"That's called pre-judging people," says Glenn Jones, who has lived on the street for decades. "He's got a right to be here."
Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to contact the MCSO Tip Line at 503-988-0560.
Update: A GoFundMe account has been created for Hasel Afshar. Donate here.