Investigators say Martha Dewitt, 78, wrote the message on a garage door. It included the N-word and referred to a campaign sign in support of Democratic congressional candidate John Ewing. The resident of the house had displayed a Ewing yard sign during the primary campaign.
Said Dewitt: “I was shocked when police accused me.”
She was ticketed this week on suspicion of destruction of property, a misdemeanor. Dewitt said she will fight the ticket and has hired an attorney.
A former Omaha Public Schools employee, Dewitt said she condemns the graffiti. “I didn’t do it,” she said.
The incident was reported Aug. 9 in the Tomahawk Hills Park neighborhood near 96th and Fort Streets. Police said a witness provided a partial license plate number and a vehicle description. Both match Dewitt’s 2010 black Honda CR-V, police said.
“I’m 78 years old. I’m not a teenager anymore, and I’m hardly ever out at night,” Dewitt said.
She said she has an injured knee that causes a visible limp and restricts her movements.
Dewitt cares for her grandchildren and ill husband and lives with adult children. She said no one else in the household has access to her vehicle and that she keeps her keys with her at all times.
Dewitt lives about a half-mile from the home that was vandalized.
The resident of the defaced property said she took the message as a threat.
“It’s awful people still feel that way because of race,” said the woman, who asked that her name not be used.
She added that she doesn’t believe the graffiti’s message represents Omaha. “It’s not who we are,” she said.
A John Ewing sign was back in her yard Thursday, and the graffiti had been removed from her garage door.
The woman said she has received support from neighbors, the neighborhood association and Ewing, who called to check on her after the incident.
The Maple Village Neighborhood Association said last week there had been several reports of racial and politically related crimes, including the theft of yard signs, vandalism and racist graffiti at other homes.