Racist term found spray painted at Burgo Basketball Association
A racist term found sprayed on a dumpster at Burgo Basketball Association property on 101 Slocum Road was “very disturbing’’ to owner Steve Burgo.
“This hurts, this hurts a lot,’’ he said. “I take this very personally.’’
He was distressed to drive into the complex and see the N-word spray painted on a dumpster very close to the entrance, where he said it could not be missed by anyone entering the complex.
“As soon as I turned in, I could see it plain as day,’’ Burgo said. “I was furious.’’
But the spraying of the N-word at his complex is “not going to deter me. These kids mean too much to me. ’’
His “kids’’ number in the thousands. Youth from throughout the region make use of the basketball and volleyball courts, he said. The association hosts up to 120 teams in the summer, he said, with 1,500 to 1,600 participants.
The association, which was founded in 1994 in the backyard of Burgo’s South Dartmouth home, aims to “provide a safe and wholesome environment’’ for area youth that is “free from the harsh elements of drugs and gang activity,’’ according to the association’s mission statement.
The association “promotes diversity and individuality,’’ the mission states, which makes the vandalism particularly troubling, he said.
The facility serves a “very diverse’’ group of young people. And that is vital, Burgo said.
“The more diverse you are, the more they get along,’’ he said. “These kids respect the place, respect who’s playing here, respect the neighbors.’’
Although the N-word can be heard in some music and casual conversations, Burgo will not tolerate that language at the site.
“A lot of people died for that stupid word,’’ he said, citing decades of civil rights struggles. “People use it too freely. They’ve got to learn … what that word means.’’
Police are investigating the graffiti, which was removed by a supporter of the organization. Anyone with information on the incident, which was reported Saturday, April 15, is asked to contact the Dartmouth Police Department directly by calling 508-910-1735. Anonymous tips can also be submitted by using the Dartmouth Police Department Tip411 system.
Police are seeking video footage or any other information that may help them identify a suspect.
“I am extremely discouraged and upset by this egregious and heinous act of vandalism,’’ Police Chief Brian P. Levesque said.
The incident serves as “a wake-up call,’’ that hate exists in the area, association board member Manny DeBrito said. “It’s getting more and more prevalent and in your face.’’
Like Burgo, DeBrito noted the diversity of the association.
“Sports is an equalizer,’’ he said. He said the youth involved are “a rainbow through the love of sports.’’
Community response to the vandalism “has been great,’’ DeBrito said. “A lot of people are saying, We’re not going to stand for it in our town and our community.’’
As upset as he is about the weekend incident, Burgo’s eyes remain on the future.
Town Meeting voters have approved a 30-year lease on the site property. He hopes to build an indoor sports facility on the site.
“This means a lot to me, always has, always will,’’ he said of the association. Other than my family, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.’’
One ugly incident will not distract him from his mission, he said. “Anything I can do to help these kids, I’m going to do.’’