Remarkably, this is not even the first time that New Shiloh Christian Center in Melbourne, Florida has been attacked. In February, a vandal set fire to the church’s storage shed and tagged it with swastikas; in March, the church’s trucks were vandalized. Somehow, these attacks were not described as hate crimes by police. But the New Shiloh Christian Center has a predominantly black congregation, and the horrors visited upon Bishop Jacquelyn Gordon and her congregation by vandals this past weekend can’t be seen any other way.
The church bistro was [...] ransacked, with shattered glass left all over the floor. Fire extinguishers were sprayed, and footprints were left behind from the vandals.
“They came back into the foyer area, and the flower that was sitting up was down on the floor,” said Bishop Jacquelyn Gordon. “A portrait of myself and my husband, they took out of the main foyer and left it on the floor.”
Gordon said the scariest part was finding her husband’s truck spray painted with the words “Charleston 2.” The vandals smashed the windows and ruined the side mirrors.
“They actually drove the vehicle into the pond, and the truck was submerged underwater,” said Lashaunda Edwards, Gordon’s daughter. “The doors were wide open, and glass was just everywhere.”
Police are offering a reward for the capture of the criminal who vandalized the church, but Gordon’s not taking this as any guarantee of protection. She told MyNews13 that it’s time for the church to hire a 24/7 security guard, even though the money’s not in the church budget. But then, Gordon points out that there wasn’t room in the budget for all the repairs the previous attacks made necessary, either.
The authorities may be taking more of an interest in the attack due to the rash of vandalism and arson against black churches occurring in the wake of the Charleston shooting, but it’s infuriating that the previous attacks, both chock full of racist imagery (even if Raw Story does note that the combination of swastikas and “Allahu akbar” in the February attack as distinctly confused), were somehow seen as non-targeted and random.
“Each time we are told it is not a hate crime, and we are not being targeted, but why is it that it has happened to us three times?” Gordon pondered. “There are other churches in this area. We are not the only ones.”
And, even if the attacks are “the work of kids” as police have claimed, it’s clear that they’re motivated by racism, no matter how confused or incomprehensible the imagery. It’s hard to imagine what sort of denial a police department would have to be engaged in to see noose graffiti and dismiss the vandalism as non-race-based.
Gordon is grateful that no one was inside the church when the attack occurred, but she’s quick to point out how terrifying it is that the vandals have gotten bolder. The damages from the attack are expected to cost thousands to fix and may even be more expensive than the $5,000 the church had to pull together to repair its property back in March. While no formal fundraisers have yet been announced, those wanting to help can donate at the church’s website.
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