Police say vandalism at Florida church was a hate crime

MELBOURNE, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say the vandalism of a predominantly black church on Florida’s Space Coast was a hate crime.

The Melbourne Police Department on Monday said it was offering a cash award for information leading to any arrests. Vandals wrote “SS Charleston 2″ on the side of a pick-up truck parked at New Shiloh Christian Church and then ransacked a section of the church.

Police officials say they believe the graffiti refers to the June 17 massacre of nine churchgoers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

It’s the third time in six months that the church has been vandalized. Florida Today reports (http://on.flatoday.com/1JefAvg) that the 1,500-member church previously was struck by an arsonist, then by juveniles who scrawled a swastika and spray-painted a noose on a storage unit.

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Information from: Florida Today (Melbourne, Fla.), http://www.floridatoday.com

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