By Daniel Reynolds
Originally published on Advocate.com September 04 2014 1:50 PM ET
A lesbian grandmother has become the target of antigay graffiti and harassment.
Melanie Powell, a resident of a trailer park in Rainier, Ore., says she has received an inordinate number of citations since the hiring of a new property manager, Maureena Schmaing, who demanded she make several repairs to her roof and exterior within 30 days.
Powell, who flies a rainbow flag from her porch, told Portland TV station KOIN that she installed a new roof only a year ago and that the complaints from Schmaing often escalate to verbal harassment. Schmaing, for her part, said she is only following the letter of the law.
“I’m tired of being yelled at, screamed at, vulgar language, being accused of doing stuff we are not doing,” Powell said.
By contrast, Powell's neighbors report no such treatment from Schmaing, and many believe the grandmother may be the target of antigay bias. One neighbor, William Pierce, has observed Schmaing's behavior toward Powell and had to intervene in one heated incident.
“I’ve watched it enough where I had to come down here myself and stop the manager from yelling at her the way she was,” said Pierce.
Powell, who has lived in the community for 25 years without incident, has also been the target of a hate crime since Schmaing became property manager. She recently observed two young men spray-painting the side of her house with the antigay death threat “Die dike.”
“I see a lot of discrimination and a lot of hurting words,” said Powell, who is currently seeking legal representation.
But despite recent events, Powell is glad to have the support of her neighbors.
“It’s a great deal of support,” Powell said. “I don’t know what I would do without having all these people on my side.”