Vandals write racial slurs, hate speech on special needs baseball field

Baseball players and their coaches pose for a team picture after their game at Fruitvale Norris Park in Bakersfield, Calif., as part of the League of Dreams. (Photo courtesy of Susan Lara)

On Sunday morning, as parents and special-needs athletes were gearing up to play baseball at the Fruitvale Norris Park, they noticed that the walls in their bright orange-and-yellow dugout were filled with graffiti.

As parents took a closer look, they saw a swastika and several racial slurs targeting children with disabilities.

The field that was vandalized is primarily used by children and teens who have physical and developmental disabilities. The Abilities Field was designed to make it easier for people with wheelchairs and walkers to play baseball.

When parents and volunteers saw the graffiti, they immediately covered it with a banner to protect their special-needs athletes from seeing the hurtful messages.

“It hurts, because they are not accepting,” said Susan Lara, a parent of a special-needs athlete.

The executive director of the League of Dreams, Jessica Mathews, went on Facebook Live on Sunday minutes after they found the vandalism. In the emotional video, she showed the graffiti and the young athletes warming up for their game.

So far, the video has been viewed more than 25,000 times, and members of the League of Dreams said they will not be broken by these hurtful words.

“They are missing out, and if they don’t have friends with disabilities, I think they are really missing out on some of the blessings of life,” said Lara.

The League of Dreams is welcoming the community and even the vandals to the league’s baseball game.

The next game will start at noon on Sunday at the Abilities Field at the Fruitvale Norris Park.

The league is also looking for volunteers to help during the games. If you are interested, visited their website for more information.

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