Fremont Hiker Targeted With Car Vandalism, Racist Note Over Head Scarf

FREMONT (CBS SF) — A Bay Area hiker said she was the target of a hate crime when she found her car broken into and an appallingly offensive note left behind during a recent walk in a Fremont park.

The toxic political campaign the country hast endured has taken a toll on many of us, including Milpitas resident Nicki Pancholy.

“The division is just…is just breaking my heart,” Pancholy.

Pancholy was so upset by all the fighting during the election that she began a “peace hike,” making the trek to the top of Mission Peak in Fremont each morning for 65 days straight.

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It’s not easy, especially for Pancholy, who has lost all her hair in a difficult battle with lupus. But recently she got a shock when she returned to her car in the parking lot.

“I noticed that my window had been shattered,” said Pancholy.

Along with the broken window was a nasty note from someone who mistook Pancholy’s headscarf for a Muslim hajib, telling her this is their nation now and to “get the [expletive] out.”

racist Fremont note left in car of hiker (CBS)

racist Fremont note left in car of hiker (CBS)

When asked what she thought was in the head of the person who did this, Pancholy replied, “Fear. I believe they’re being controlled by fear. I believe that fear has consumed them.”

But fear of what? Fremont City Councilman-elect Raj Salwan says it may be fear of change.

A great deal has changed in Fremont in the past 30 years. The city has become one of the most diverse cities in the Bay Area with a huge population of immigrants from India, Pakistan and other South Asian nations.

“I think there’s a lot of insecurity right now, both economic and cultural,” said Salwan. “And some folks are feeling that they’re losing America as they remember it.”

But by most accounts, people here seem to be getting along rather nicely.

That leaves Nicki feeling more sadness than anger for whoever wrote the note.  But just the same, she says people need to stand up to the bullies who seem intent on making America hate again.

Councilman-elect Salwan told KPIX 5 such behavior will not be tolerated in Fremont. He has sent the note to police to help with the investigation into the incident as a hate crime.

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