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Good neighbors watch out for one another

A comment about hate crime that is both disturbing and in a way encouraging was made a few days ago by a woman who apparently was a victim of it.

Police in Sterling — about 60 miles due west from Salem — are investigating an explosion that reduced a home to rubble. Fortunately, no one was injured — because no one was home when the blast occurred early Wednesday. The homeowners were staying elsewhere while repairs were being made at the home.

Hate crime is suspected in part because racial slurs and a swastika were found painted on the home’s garage and other nearby properties. The house normally is occupied by a married couple. The husband, Brade Frase, is white. The wife, Angela, is black.

Frase told a reporter she and her husband had lived in the home since 1997 — and had never experienced any racial prejudice from other people in the area.

That is a strong indication that if a hate crime occurred, it was perpetrated by someone from outside the area. That is not uncommon in such situations. But for more than 20 years, it appears the couple and people around them got along as, well, good neighbors.

Good neighbors watch out for one another.

Some crimes cannot be prevented. But some can, especially if watchful neighbors are present. That is the encouraging part of the story — but only if people take their responsibilities as good neighbors to heart.

If you live in a neighborhood or rural area and become aware that someone near you has been targeted for crime — for whatever reason — let them know you’re on their side. Keep your eyes open. Don’t hesitate to call 911 if something looks amiss.

And spread the word, perhaps through one of those “neighborhood watch” signs. Some of us have personal knowledge of such situations, in which good neighbors let potential perpetrators of hate crimes know the consequences of them would be swift and severe. Often, such action prevents any trouble.

Watch out for your neighbors, then. Perhaps they’ll do the same for you.

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