MANHATTAN BEACH (CBSLA.com) — Some concerned neighbors in one Manhattan Beach neighborhood had a message to haters Friday evening.
In a show of unity after a possible arson aimed at a black family, 700 residents gathered to speak out against hate. They also had a candlelight vigil.
KCAL9’s Rachel Kim attended the vigil.
Although investigators have not yet officially called the blaze an act of arson, Ron Clinton and his three children escaped from their home after someone set a tire on fire at their front door around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday. Ron’s wife, Malissia, was away on a business trip.
She said the fire was deliberate and a hate crime. The fire caused about $200,000 worth of smoke damage.
Friday evening, the family wanted to thank those who came to support them.
“I just want to say thank you. Thank you for coming out and showing your love; it means everything to us,” said Ron Clinton.
The Clinton family expressed gratitude to a crowd of hundreds who showed up at Metlox Park to shed light on the firebombing at their home on the 700 block of 11th Street.
“I was shocked twice. I was shocked by the atrocious act I awoke to Wednesday morning when my husband called me. And I’m shocked by the outpouring of emotion,” Malissia Clinton said.
Earlier today, Manhattan Beach police and fire authorities announced a joint investigation into the incident.
“The motive in this is still under investigation. Racial motivation and hate crime are being considered, but we have not ruled out any possibilities,” Manhattan Beach Fire Department Chief Robert Espinosa said.
However, the Clintons believe they were targeted because of race.
“It was someone who felt animosity toward us, and it was unwarranted, undeserved, so it was a hate crime no matter how you call it,” Malissia Clinton said.
“I’m horrified and embarrassed, but then I come down here and I’m so grateful and happy for the community that we have for giving us another chance to show who we really are,” said Lindsey Kidder, a Manhattan Beach resident.
The outpouring from friends and strangers alike touched Ron Clinton.
“Whatever I felt as far as being afraid to be in this community snapped back really quick. Very quickly, I realized [what happened] was not a reflection on the people that are here.”
Residents, reported Kim, raised more than $20,000 to help fund a reward leading to the arrest of the possible arsonist.