SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Salt Lake City Police are looking into an alleged hate crime rattling many in the Asian American Community.

Over the weekend, Trey Imamura found the hateful spray-painted messages at the International Peace Gardens inside the Japanese Tea Garden Area.

“To see this, it was really saddening while it really hit home for me. This is too close for comfort,” says Imamura. “Growing up in Rose Park in a very colorful community and then all of a sudden seeing this really hateful statement, it really hit home.”

International Peace Gardens Vandalized

Imamura says he didn’t find any other area of the park vandalized adding, “It was just saddening to know that such sentiment exists in our own community of Salt Lake, especially in the International Peace Gardens. That was the most disturbing part.”

Imamura says he was at the park to look over the Japanese Tea Garden for a planned clean-up with the Japanese American Citizens League on October 23rd.

He reached out to State Senator Jami Iwamoto, who told him to file a police report Monday.

“Even though it is scary, these things happen. When I filled out the police report, it was like, this isn’t just for me, it’s for our whole community,” says Imamura. “The chief of the Salt Lake City Police Department reached out to me just offering solidarity and checking on me if I’m ok. If my community members are ok, and just offering their disgust with what happened.”

A recent 2020 FBI report shows hate crimes are up in Utah. The United States Department of Justice adding it is looking into 51 Hate Crimes from 2020.

International Peace Gardens Vandalized

“Hate crimes and bias incidents have no place in Salt Lake City. We won’t tolerate them,” Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown tells us. “We are not sure when it occurred but we will look into those things and see if there is any surveillance video or if somebody saw something please let us know.”

Imamura adds, “We can’t let some small petty act of vandalism ruin our peace gardens or ruin our whole aspect of our communities.”

Cleanup efforts are underway by Salt Lake City Officials.

If you know anything about the hate-filled messages left at the International Peace Gardens you’re asked to call 801.799.3000.