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Owner of pickup with racial slur says vandals did it, but police have no report

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Racist truck

This truck was seen near 48th and O streets with a racist slur painted on its back windshield, which has been obscured.

A social media storm over a pickup truck in Lincoln that displayed a racial slur has resulted in a Fillmore County man receiving death threats, he said Sunday.

A photo taken Saturday in Lincoln of the pickup with a racist slur painted on its back window was shared widely on Twitter. Austin J. Cordis, 21, of Ohiowa, said the truck belongs to him, but he didn't write the message.

The photo, which depicts a white Chevrolet pickup truck with the racist slur painted in large red, white and blue lettering, was retweeted by, among others, retired professional basketball player Rex Chapman, who has more than 945,000 followers.

“Sick of this (expletive),” Chapman tweeted. “Twitter do your thing... #BlackLivesMatter.”

That prompted Twitter users to search public records for information on the vehicle, which had Fillmore County plates, and to share the owner's name.

The photo appears to have been taken at the intersection of 48th and O streets. "Trump 2020" is painted below the slur.

Cordis told the Omaha World-Herald on Sunday that he drove his 2002 Chevrolet Silverado K1500 to Gateway Mall near 61st and O streets at about 5 p.m. Saturday.

He was in the mall "about 20 minutes" and came out to find the message written on the truck's back window. He claimed to have observed other vehicles also "marked up."

Cordis said he went to a car wash about three blocks away to wash off the message. He did not file a report of vandalism with the Lincoln Police Department.

"It's something someone else did," Cordis said. "I just washed it off. I thought it was stupid."

Lincoln Police Capt. Danny Reitan said Sunday that he could not find any reports of vehicles being vandalized Saturday.

"There was no vandalism of that nature reported to the Lincoln Police Department," Reitan said. "There's nothing (reported) in the area of the Gateway Mall."

Gateway Mall security also hadn't heard of any vandalism to vehicles, general manager Chad Becwar told the Journal Star on Sunday afternoon.

Lincoln police did receive several reports about social media posts showing the message written on Cordis' pickup truck, Reitan said. Police had no reports of any disturbances involving the pickup.

Some Twitter users said they saw several vehicles with pro-Trump messages driving through town. Police have no knowledge of any political rallies being held in Lincoln, Reitan said.

Public officials also spoke out after seeing the photo.

"This is horrific," Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird tweeted. "Acts of racism and intimidation have no place in our community or country. We are better than this.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts also tweeted about the photo Sunday afternoon.

"This is disgusting," he said. "Racism has no place in our society, and does not reflect Nebraska values. This language is wrong and hateful. We must all strongly condemn statements like this, and work to build greater understanding and love for our neighbors in our communities."

Cordis said that he has been receiving threats since his name and address were posted on social media accounts Saturday.

"I've got everybody and anybody you can think of calling me and texting me," Cordis said. "There have been a lot of death threats from people that I don't know."

A Stromsburg woman who has a 15-month-old child with Cordis, said she has also received death threats. A tearful Josephine Ewing returned a call from the World-Herald on Sunday to say she and Cordis are no longer in a relationship and she doesn't know anything about what was written on his truck.

"I want people to know that he does not live here, and we are not together," Ewing said. "Me and my daughter have been getting death threats. Everyone needs to keep me and my child out of this. My kid needs to be left alone."

Cordis is awaiting trial in Fillmore County District County on felony charges of operating a large marijuana growing operation, possession of a firearm while manufacturing marijuana and being in possession of a firearm while committing a felony. He said "it's possible" that someone may have been trying to add to his legal troubles.

"I don't know, but I don't even vote," said Cordis, who is a registered Republican. "I'm not a racist. All lives matter."

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