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Someone Broke Into A Teen Girl's Bedroom To Leave A Racist Message On Her Walls

"You gotta meet this thing head-on. You can't get backed into a corner by these cowards."

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A small town in Ontario is rallying to support this teenage couple after they were targeted by racists.

Ruby Benner and Jayden Hannigan, two 10th-graders from Port Colborne, have been dating for about six months. Until recently, their relationship was no different from that of any other kids in town.But two weeks ago, Ruby's dad Tim Benner came home to find their house had been broken into."Everything was thrown on the floors, ripped off the walls, dresser drawers emptied — everything just trashed," he said, describing the scene as "carnage."But it wasn't until three hours later, after police had gone through the house, that Benner found a hateful message that left him in tears. On Ruby's bedroom wall, the vandals had spraypainted the words "Nigga Lover."
Shannon Hannigan

Ruby Benner and Jayden Hannigan, two 10th-graders from Port Colborne, have been dating for about six months. Until recently, their relationship was no different from that of any other kids in town.

But two weeks ago, Ruby's dad Tim Benner came home to find their house had been broken into.

"Everything was thrown on the floors, ripped off the walls, dresser drawers emptied — everything just trashed," he said, describing the scene as "carnage."

But it wasn't until three hours later, after police had gone through the house, that Benner found a hateful message that left him in tears.

On Ruby's bedroom wall, the vandals had spraypainted the words "Nigga Lover."

"My first reaction was, what do I tell my daughter? Do we cover this up or do we tell her?"

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"I just sat down and had a bit of a breakdown on the bed," he said.

After about 20 minutes, Benner decided to call his daughter in to show her the hateful message.

"You gotta meet this thing head-on," he says he told Ruby. "You can't get backed into a corner by these cowards."

Police are treating the incident as a hate crime.

There has been an outpouring of support from the community and others across Canada.

Shannon Hannigan said the incident crushed her son at first. But after both families spoke with the CBC and their story went public, things have gotten better. "It's helped him," she told BuzzFeed Canada. "He's come around more. He's more the boy — my boy. The last two weeks, he hasn't been. He's been a different kid. He's been scared and upset and didn't want to talk. And that's not the relationship we have. But once he started to see that people didn't think of him differently, I can see him coming back."Hannigan said she has always been mindful that raising a black son in a mostly-white town would come with certain challenges, but it has still been difficult. "The last two weeks have been horrible," she said."Maybe we think we have come farther than we really have. It's definitely a learning opportunity."
Shannon Hannigan

Shannon Hannigan said the incident crushed her son at first. But after both families spoke with the CBC and their story went public, things have gotten better.

"It's helped him," she told BuzzFeed Canada. "He's come around more. He's more the boy — my boy. The last two weeks, he hasn't been. He's been a different kid. He's been scared and upset and didn't want to talk. And that's not the relationship we have. But once he started to see that people didn't think of him differently, I can see him coming back."

Hannigan said she has always been mindful that raising a black son in a mostly-white town would come with certain challenges, but it has still been difficult.

"The last two weeks have been horrible," she said.

"Maybe we think we have come farther than we really have. It's definitely a learning opportunity."

Benner said the response has been overwhelming. "So far, it's been all positive," he said.

Locals have offered to repaint Ruby's room for free and to help fix the house after it was ransacked.People have also been reaching out to the teenagers on social media with messages of support, as well as stories of how they overcame discrimination in their own lives. Some have even made anonymous donations to the families.The goal now is "to turn this tragedy into an act of kindness, make sure the kids are properly healed," Benner said. "And everyone is showing a lot of support."Port Colborne, with a population of about 19,000, is the sort of place where "everybody knows everybody," said Mayor John Maloney. As a result, the community has come together to make sure things don't go any further, he said, and a rally denouncing racism is planned for Friday."It's a hate crime and it's being investigated by the police. We're hopeful that the perpetrators will be brought to justice quickly," Maloney said."We want people in this community and elsewhere in the country to know that racism is not acceptable and will not be tolerated."
Shannon Hannigan

Locals have offered to repaint Ruby's room for free and to help fix the house after it was ransacked.

People have also been reaching out to the teenagers on social media with messages of support, as well as stories of how they overcame discrimination in their own lives. Some have even made anonymous donations to the families.

The goal now is "to turn this tragedy into an act of kindness, make sure the kids are properly healed," Benner said. "And everyone is showing a lot of support."

Port Colborne, with a population of about 19,000, is the sort of place where "everybody knows everybody," said Mayor John Maloney. As a result, the community has come together to make sure things don't go any further, he said, and a rally denouncing racism is planned for Friday.

"It's a hate crime and it's being investigated by the police. We're hopeful that the perpetrators will be brought to justice quickly," Maloney said.

"We want people in this community and elsewhere in the country to know that racism is not acceptable and will not be tolerated."

Ishmael N. Daro is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto. PGP fingerprint: 5A1D 9099 3497 DA4B

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

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