Everett police are investigating the uprooting of a large wooden cross from outside a Black Baptist church early Thursday morning as a possible hate crime, officials said. The vandalism took place overnight at Zion Church Ministries on Broadway in the city’s Glendale section, police and Mayor Carlo DeMaria said in separate Facebook statements Thursday.
Bishop Robert G. Brown, senior pastor of the church, said its office manager had come to work Thursday morning and found the cross missing from the spot where it had stood for the last two or three years. She then saw it lying in an adjacent yard and called Brown and police, he said.
“It must have happened in the wee hours of the morning. … Broadway, obviously, that time of morning isn’t that heavily traveled,” Brown said in a phone interview Thursday evening. Brown said he experienced “a feeling of disbelief that somebody would actually do that.”
“It hurt,” he said. “It just hurt to know that somebody would deface the area by just uprooting and tossing it off to the side with no regard for people’s feelings.”
DeMaria called the church “a long-standing and integral member of the Everett community” and said the vandalism “was not an accident but a hate crime against Zion Ministries and their community.”
“As Mayor, I’m repulsed and distraught that someone would intentionally vandalize a religious organization in our community,” he said. “There is absolutely no room for any hate in Everett.”
Brown said he has no idea who might have defaced the symbol of faith, but police are reviewing surveillance video from the church and a nearby building.
“I’m really hoping it’s just somebody who pulled a prank, and we catch them, they learn a little lesson,” he said. “To put hate behind it is very strong, and I just pray it’s not that. Let us all keep our heads, keep praying, and also do everything we can as a community to eradicate situations like this.”
Everett police and State Police are investigating. Authorities ask that anyone with information about the vandalism contact the Everett police civil rights officer at 617-394-5063.