Teen vandalizes local church and paints swastikas on nearby school

The Chico Police Department is not calling the vandalism a hate crime because the swastikas were not on church property, but the nearby Thrive campus.

Posted: Sep 22, 2021 7:36 PM

CHICO, Calif. - Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church and Thrive School on Hawthorne Ave. in Chico were both vandalized on the evening of Sept. 22.

The Chico Police Department has now arrested and cited a 13-year-old boy for the destruction.

The shocking part was that he painted several swastikas on the Thrive homeschool and after-school program campus next door to the church.

"My first reaction was shock and bewilderment, and then some anger and frustration,” Pastor Donald Jordan at Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church said.

Pastor Donald saw the graffiti when he arrived at the church on Tuesday morning.

"Church's tend to be very vulnerable,” the pastor said. “We're open, we're accessible and people tend to take advantage of churches at times like this."

The perpetrator was somehow able to climb on top of the church building, ripping the tiles off of the roof and throwing them onto the ground.

The vandal then hopped the fence that separated Thrive from the church and tagged the homeschool campus painting several swastikas.

The director at Thrive said they quickly removed the markings so the kids could return to school that same day.

Chico PD is not calling it a hate crime because the swastikas were not on church property, but on Thrive's campus and the school has no religious, race, or ethnic ideology.

"I think every crime is a hate crime in some sense, either hating God or hating your neighbor, not loving your God or your neighbor,” Pastor Donald told Action News Now.

Chico PD said the juvenile did admit to vandalizing the area, but did not know the meaning of the swastika and said he was bored. The FBI defines a hate crime as one motivated by bias against many things including race, religion, or gender identity.

“We’ve noticed an uptick in vandalism,” Pastor Donald said. “It has been increasing in intensity and severity, so we are concerned about this and we’d like to put a stop to it at this point.”

Despite the act feeling a whole lot like hate, the pastor is hoping God will work well out of this bad situation.

"We are simply praying for the people who did this,” Pastor Donald said. “That God would have mercy on them and focusing on the ministry of this church to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to all people."

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