A 52-year-old communal living curiosity in the East Bay is making news again for an unfortunate reason this week after vehicles and buildings on the property were hit with racist graffiti.
Officially known as Lafayette Morehouse, the 23-acre so-called "Purple People" commune off Purson Lane in Lafayette was targeted by vandals in the last week, with black spray-painted words and symbols — including a swastika — painted on both cars and the walls of buildings. As the Mercury News reports, the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office is investigating, and has notified the FBI.
Photos of the vandalism published by NBC Bay Area show symbols like a star of David and a squiggle-mouth face, and what appears to be the N-word spray-painted on a car.
Sheriff's office spokesman Jimmy Lee says in a statement that the agency "takes all of these types of acts that could be bias- or hate-related seriously and will investigate thoroughly,” and adds, “We will not tolerate this in any of our communities."
A posting on Nextdoor has asked neighbors for surveillance video that might help them catch the vandals.
Lafayette Morehouse is one of those kooky Bay Area phenomena that date back to the late 1960s, and the "intentional living" community — sometimes called a "sex cult" — has endured over the decades with its purple-painted houses and golf carts, and courses in sensuality, polyamory, and improving one's sex life. Famously, as the group's website touts, they hosted a public event in 1976 demonstrating the possibilities of the extended female orgasm — featuring the first wife of commune founder Vic Baranco, Suzie Baranco.
As neighbor Dave Holland tells NBC Bay Area, the place used to be a magnet for police visits in previous years, but lately not so much. And it's remained something of a rite of passage for local teenagers, who often drive in to check it out and see what they may find.
"Seems like it happens Spring Break, graduation, Friday or Saturday night," Holland tells the station. "I’ll see kids pulling up and I think here we go, this will be good."
Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to call the sheriff's office at 925-313-2600, and anonymous tips can be emailed to [email protected] or left at 866-846-3592.
Below, a 2013 video from Lafayette Morehouse advertising the group's summer "work/study" course offerings, and showing some images of the property which includes a pool, and "our own nightclub."