Culprit Behind ‘Hate Crime’ Against Small-Town Mayor Turns Out to Be…Pollen

“My God, who would do that?”

As public furor over the Jussie Smollett case begins to die down, an investigation into a potential hate crime against a small-town South Carolina mayor ended after police identified the culprit: Pollen.

Darnell Byrd-McPherson, volunteer mayor of Lamar, released a statement in early February alleging someone had vandalized her vehicles that week in an apparent hate crime.

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“My husband and our neighbor noticed the cars looked like someone had spray painted on both our vehicles, which were parked in our front yard,” she said in the statement. “As an aside, during the 70s, crosses were burned in the yard of our home when my Mother was involved with the civil rights movement. On this very same corner in this very same front yard!”

McPherson told Newsweek that she and her husband found a “yellow, sticky substance” on the cars. “I likened it as a hate crime because No. 1, there’s a history in our town of Lamar,” she said.  “It ignited some fear in my spirit,” she said. “My God, who would do that?”

Local and state police investigated and identified the substance as pollen. “We found it to be pollen,” Darlington County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Robby Kilgo told Newsweek.

Newsweek obtained an incident report revealing that McPherson and her husband streaked a finger over the surfaces of their vehicles and “realized it was not paint and that the substance could be removed with a finger; similar to pollen.” According to the report, McPherson had “a possible suspect in mind at the time” the incident occurred.

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The report also revealed that two sheriff’s officials investigating the incident “immediately came to the conclusion that the substance had a yellowish tint to it and that it’s a type of powder similar to pollen.”

While many conservative outlets have mocked McPherson, comparing her case to that of “Empire” star Smollett, she remains adamant that the mysterious substance on her car wasn’t caused by an act of nature. “It’s something,” she told Newsweek. “Something that’s sticky that’s stuck to my car and took two different solutions to get it off.”

The Smollett case sparked intense public scrutiny and debate over whether the hate crime crisis in America is found in the spike in reported incidents, or the numerous hoaxes that have been documented.

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Cover image: Darnell Byrd McPherson (Screen grab from Twitter)

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