Man pleads not guilty to mischief, graffiti charges in First Street racial incident

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The Rome man accused of writing racists graffiti, a Nazi swastika and other hateful language on a Black neighbor’s rental truck denied the hate crime in County Court Friday morning.

Donald W. DeCarolis, 40, of First Street, pleaded not guilty before Judge Michael L. Dwyer to one count each of third-degree mischief and making graffiti. Dwyer said the mischief charge has been filed as a hate crime.

DeCarolis appeared virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions in the courtroom. His case was adjourned to Jan. 22.

Police said in the early morning hours of Sept. 5, DeCarolis drew a swastika and wrote other racially derogatory language on the side of his neighbor’s rented U-Haul truck.

Police said he also flattened one of the tires with a sharp object.

The woman posted videos of the vandalism on social media, prompting a large outcry from the Rome community, including a protest on First Street the following day and condemnations by city leaders.

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