Archie Claybon’s Ford F-350 was allegedly fire-bombed and spray-painted with racist language. | Photo courtesy Archie Claybon.

UPDATE, 3/1: EPD Now Investigating Recent Vehicle Arson as a Hate Crime


Archie Claybon was awoken around 1:45 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 20, by a call from the Eureka Police Department saying he and his fiancée needed to come outside and meet them at the end of the block because his truck was on fire, he told the Outpost on Thursday.

When they got there, he said, they saw that his highly customized 2004 Ford F-350, which he’d paid $10,000 to have wrapped with advertisements for his tile business, Claybon’s Custom Tile and Design, was fully engulfed in flames – and after closer inspection he found that the n-word had been spray painted above the back passenger-side tire.

“It’s Black History Month, and they put the n-word on my truck … ,” Claybon said. “I just feel like whoever did this, they’ve got some stuff wrong in their head, a whole other level of racism. I feel like it’s 2024’s equivalent to having a cross burned on my front porch.”

Laura Montagna, a spokesperson for the Eureka Police Department, could only say that the incident is still under investigation.

Claybon, meanwhile, said he’s been racking his brain trying to figure out who would do this and why. He doesn’t know if it was motivated by a personal grudge or by anger over the fact that he’s been parking his truck along this stretch of Harris Street, between Williams and D, for weeks to take advantage of the high traffic volume and visibility.

Claybon said he has been in contact with the city’s code enforcement unit over anonymous complaints about his truck being parked in one place for more than 72 hours, but he doesn’t think that would explain the violence of this action or the hateful language he found.

“A lot of people have asked me, ‘How would [the alleged perpetrator] know I’m black?’ Well, my last name says it all,” Claybon said, adding that his family has lived in Humboldt County since the 1970s and he’s been here for roughly 13 years.

Claybon said that over the last two years he has spent roughly $50,000 on his work truck – “engine, transmission, four-wheel-drive, turbo, wrap, paint, rims, a full makeover,” he said. “It was basically brand new. The only thing that was original was the leather seats.”

He’s doubtful that his insurance will cover the full value of his truck and the damages to his business, and he said people have suggested that he start a GoFundMe campaign to recoup some of his losses. But that’s not his style.

“If anybody wants to help, tell your friends [about my business],” he said, adding the motto, “I tile, you smile.”

“I’ve had so many bumps in the road; this is nothing a little blood, sweat and tears can’t fix,” Claybon said.

Below is video footage he took of the truck after the fire had been extinguished.