RIVERVIEW, Fla.—The Hillsborough County Rapid Response Team spent early Thursday morning power washing, scrubbing and painting over dozens of hate symbols spray-painted onto the exterior walls and parking lot of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Riverview.
Pastor Kevin Yoakum says he discovered the graffiti Wednesday morning when he arrived at the church with his young daughter.
“It’s just sad. It’s just sad. There’s no purpose for this,” he says.
The church has around 130 members. Some of them previously tried to scrub off the markings, but needed more help. While the Rapid Response Team typically responds to public commercial buildings, they will occasionally get a call like this one.
“If it’s a hate message or symbol, the sheriff’s office will get us involved to take care of it,” says Jon-Paul Lavandeira with the response team.
Seeing the swastikas, pentagrams, racial slurs and profanity painted on a place of worship is something he calls upsetting.
“It’s extremely frustrating. It’s not something that’s becoming of a church, let alone public property,” says Lavandeira.
Thanks to the county, the markings are now covered with a fresh coat of paint.
“That is something for which I am extremely grateful,” says Pastor Yoakum. “I didn’t even know that had this anti-graffiti response unit.”
While he’s a man of God, when he first saw the messages that took the Lord’s name in vain, he was hurt. Now, he and his congregation are choosing to battle the hate the only way they know how.
“Someone’s also said I’m going to be praying for the vandals too, because they’re going to need more help than you,” says Pastor Yoakum.
The vandals are still on the run. If and when they are caught, they could face several thousands of dollars worth or fines and possibly jail time.
If you have any information that could lead to an arrest, call the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
Hate symbols painted onto Riverview church
Hate symbols painted onto Riverview church x
Police, firefighters surprise children with Christmas gifts
Humane Society offers $1,000 reward to find person who dumped sick puppies in Tampa
Car crashes into building
Car crashes into building
PHOTOS: Endangered crocodile hatches at Zoo Miami
Bucs vs. Falcons
Courtney Campbell Causeway trail
Stacie’s 2017 Heart Walk photos
Winners of Siesta Key sand scuplture contest
Bucs vs. Jets
STORIES OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON:
- Tropical Storm Cindy makes landfall in Louisiana
- TRAGEDY: Dallas boy, 12, drowns in Tampa hotel pool, sister dies at hospital
- Pasco man arrested after video shows him impersonating law enforcement officer
- Riverview church hit by vandals, symbols, graffiti spray-painted
- Winter Park man arrested for 10 counts of child pornography
- WINNER: $1 million Mega Millions ticket sold in Pasco Co.
- Florida man investigated for harassing manatees after posting viral video
- Pinellas Co. LPN arrested for giving patient morphine without prescription
- Georgia inmates save guard’s life when he collapses during work detail