South Richmond church vandalized

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Members of a South Richmond church were horrified to find that someone spray-painted offensive graffiti all over the brick walls.

Some neighbors walking by the church noticed the graffiti early Sunday morning and called police.

Church members say they not only want to know who vandalized their church, but also, why.

Janet Atkinson is the music director at Southampton Baptist Church on the Southside. She says this Sunday started as a beautiful morning.

"Arrived here in a wonderful mood, planning on meeting my choir at 10:30 to go through the music before the service at 11."

That's until she saw the hateful graffiti spray painted all over her church.

"It's hideous," Atkinson said.  "Swastikas and slurs on the blacks and the Jewish population. It's just awful."

One of the church members tried to scrub off some of this graffiti but he wasn't able to get rid of it before the rest of his church showed up for their usual Sunday services.

Katharine Bullock lives across the street. She looked out the window this morning, only to see the vandalism a few feet away from her home.

"A church building is a sacred place," Bullock said.  "A place where you should not have to deal with that kind of a thing. You can come and be safe there and not feel like somebody might have hate."

Richmond Police have assigned a detective to investigate who might have vandalized the church. Still, Atkinson and others are wondering why.

"I mean who would dislike a church and paint this kind of awful stuff on the walls?" she asked.

One church member has already volunteered to use a pressure washer to get rid of the spray paint.

The church now says it's trying to figure out if its insurance will cover the clean-up.

"The sooner it's off the walls the better," Atkinson said.

The church pastor is currently out of town, but issued a statement saying: "We pray that the people who did this will find god's love in their lives and find more productive and peaceful ways to express themselves."

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