HUGHES, Ark. — A church in Arkansas is left to clean up a hate-filled message after vandals targeted their place of worship.
Holes were knocked in the walls and the words “Trump 2020” & the n-word were spray-painted on the St. Mary Baptist church walls and doors in Hughes, Arkansas.
The church was already rebuilding after a fire ripped through the building in 2019.
It was set to re-open on Sunday, but when church members and the pastor went inside to make sure everything was ready for service, they found vandalism throughout the building.
Hughes’ Police Chief Justice Ferrell said it’s an active investigation at a staple in the community for sixty years.
“It doesn’t define the people in the City of Hughes, and we won’t let it define us," said Ferrell.
The same church caught fire March 2019. Volunteer fire service put out the fire and just a few hours later it caught fire again.
“By us being so small it’s sad to see the little bit of community and buildings we do have, people are taking time to destroy it,” said Christopher Baker, a Hughes resident.
Mayor Lincoln E, Barnett released a statement that said in part,
"Such acts as these are cowardly, attention-seeking and birthed from ignorance, hatred, insecurities, and low self-worth. If anyone knows anything regarding this petty act of vandalism and terror they need to report it to the local police department directly at 870-339-2332 ext. 3 or via the dispatchers at 870-633-2611.
“This is likely to result in some negative press coverage of our City, but remember no one knows the Good of Hughes better than the people from Hughes and these few cowardly acts will never outweigh the good. HUGHES is the best news source for Hughes. We may bend but we won’t fold or break! Keep your heads up, keep praying while working, stay alert, remain Hughes Proud and focused on Uniting Hughes For Shared Progress!”
Police said nothing was taken from the church, but people in the community said in a place that gives so much, there’s never a need to try and take the love out of the community.
“The pastor and I have spoke, The congregation is in good spirits. They’re not going to let this set them back in any way,” said Chief Ferrell.
The pastor and church members were not available to speak to us today, but they said they’re still moving forward to rebuild the church to continue to serve the community.
Hughes police said it’s being treated as an open investigation and the facts of the case aren’t going to be dictated by fear mongering or race baiting. They’re working the case as a vandalism.
Police also said they’re working with the community and have a few working leads they’re following.
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