Racist graffiti rocks quiet NEK communities

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WEST GLOVER, Vt. (WCAX) Racist and xenophobic vandalism left its mark on the Northeast Kingdom this week, including at a world-famous cheesemaker.

"We get visitors here from all over the world," said Mateo Kehler with Jasper Hill Farm. The company credits its nearly 80 cheesemakers and farmers for it's award winning, raw-milk cheeses that draw people to the Northeast Kingdom. "We are a place- based business."

Jasper Hill is located in Greensboro, but uses milk from nearby farms, like the Andersonville Farm in West Glover. "We have folks who are straight, gay, trans-employees. We have people of color, immigrants. We have Jewish people who work for us.

And Jasper Hill worries that's why vandals targeted the farm, spray-painting swastikas and the "N" word on a barn. "We felt assaulted," Kehler said.

The farm is one of several locations in the Kingdom hit recently, but it's unclear if the incidents are connected.

Orleans County Sheriff's Dept. Jesse Testut says his department and the Vermont State Police are investigating.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Do you have any suspects?

Dept. Jesse Testut: We do not at this time.

"There were markings on the road, expletive markings, sexual names, that nature," Dept. Testut said.

The graffiti rocked this usually quiet and peaceful area. "I am disgusted. I live among people who think that way," said Besty Donlon of Greensboro. "I think you'll find many people here will be absolutely outraged."

"It needs to stop. It's not cool," said Kathryn Locke of Albany.

And when Jasper Hill posted it on Facebook, It blew up with comments.

"I am saddened to see this. One of the things I always loved about Vermont was the kindness and tolerance of its residents," said one Facebook post. "This is not the Vermont we grew up in, zero tolerance for this."

"Breaks my heart to see this happen in Vermont. I hope these despicable people are caught," said another posting.

Something else blew up as well -- a GoFundMe campaign with people raising money to fund a reward for an arrest in the case.

"Never waste a crisis, and this is a crisis definitely not worth wasting," Kehler said.

As of Wednesday, the GoFundMe campaign has exceeded its $5,000 goal by about a thousand bucks.