St. Peter’s Italian Catholic Church in Los Angeles was found vandalized on Monday, seemingly in protest of Columbus Day and the opening of the Americas to European colonization.
The vandalism is being investigated by officials as a “hate crime,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
Photographs show splotches of red paint on the front steps and facade of the church.
Detectives w/@LAPDHQ are investigating, what appears to be paintball vandalism, to St. Peter’s Italian Catholic Church. No security cams, and no witnesses. The pastor says it happened between 7-7:30 a.m. today— downtown #LosAngeles. pic.twitter.com/wSHBVERNdb
— Craig Fiegener (@CraigNews3LV) October 11, 2021
The words “Land Back” and “Stolen Land” were spray-painted on the sidewalk in front of the house of worship, according to the Times. A banner reading “Stop Colonizing Our Land” was also found outside the church.
“I think it’s all related to Columbus Day,” said Arturo Martinez, who said he noticed the vandalism on Monday morning.
“We know the history of Columbus, so they have taken a direct hit to Italy and what Columbus represents.”
“We pray for all the people who suffer discrimination and isolation, so that they can find peace in their hearts, and we can live in harmony and peace,” St. Peter’s said in a statement, according to KTLA-TV.
“Our parish is a home of prayer and encounter, where everyone is welcome to find GOD. We forgive and look forward to having the strength to do GOD’s will.”
“As a community of faith, we offer our prayers for those who felt compelled to express their concerns in this way,” Archdiocese of Los Angeles spokeswoman Carolina Guevara said. “We also pray for the parish community as they work to clean up the damage.”
Councilman Joe Buscaino condemned the vandalism in a post on Facebook.
“I am saddened by the act of vandalism today against St. Peter’s Italian Catholic Church near downtown LA,” Buscaino, who is running for mayor, said. “I am hopeful that those who committed these acts to a sacred place of worship will be found and prosecuted.”
“Today should be about celebrating our diversity and contributions to society, without the need for hatred or violence. We all need to work together, not breed division and hate with one another. I pray that our city can truly embrace and be proud of our diversity.”
Martinez echoed the sentiment, saying, “There’s a right way to make a protest, and this is not it, obviously.”
No suspects have yet been identified.
In 2017, the Los Angeles City Council and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.
“This gesture of replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day is a very small step in apologizing and in making amends,” Councilman Mike Bonin said at the time.
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