Riverview church vandalized with swastikas, racist, satanic graffiti

Christ the King Lutheran Church in Riverview

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.

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