ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WJBK) - By design the skate park at Veterans Park in Ann Arbor is meant to be a welcoming place, and skaters say that until Friday morning it was.
Some of the first riders to come out Friday saw anything but a welcoming sign spray painted throughout the park.
"It's sad," said John Creal. "I didn't think the city I grew up in would have this."
Kids skated on, and over the derogatory symbols dodging the yellow caution tape and work cones while others came out to see the vandalism for themselves.
"The (kids) know it's messed up and it's kind of weird to inherit a world like this," said Nick Ayers. "So they are trying to make sense of it. And that's why we need to continue to have the tough talks with them."
"Hopefully people will have conversations with their kids," said Rachel Schilling. "So we can start to have an understanding about what this is and what it really means."
Ann Arbor police are calling the vandalism hate graffiti and offering a $500 reward for information on whoever is responsible.
The city is already working to move beyond the messages trying to wipe them away as best they can. Workers with the city have started the removal process. They put what they call "elephant snot" on it that eats away at the paint and then power wash it off.
If that doesn't work, they will paint over it with gray paint. Either way they say these symbols of hate with be taken away.
Others are wrestling with ways on how to move past the message even after its physically removed.
"I kind of have the feeling that this is kids crying out for attention," Ayers said. "But the messages and symbols are very serious and not to be taken lighthearted."
"Do we make a big deal out of this and give it more attention," Schilling said. "I don't know. I struggle with this just like everyone else."