Crime - Sacto 911

Swastikas spray-painted on Sacramento church investigated as hate crime

Sister Clare Graham shares stories about her schoolmate Genevieve "Genny" Lucchesi at a memorial at St. Francis of Assisi church in Sacramento in 2015.
Sister Clare Graham shares stories about her schoolmate Genevieve "Genny" Lucchesi at a memorial at St. Francis of Assisi church in Sacramento in 2015. mcrisostomo@sacbee.com

Two swastikas painted on the exterior wall of a midtown Sacramento Catholic church will be investigated as part of a hate crime, Sacramento police said Sunday.

The symbols were found painted in black on the K Street side of the St. Francis of Assisi Parish on Saturday morning, said the Rev. Desmond O’Reilly.

“It doesn’t look like something that somebody spent a lot of time doing,” O’Reilly said. “I don’t think we were targeted. I think it was just an opportunistic thing.”

Sacramento police spokesman Officer Matt McPhail said police hope the vandal will appear on surveillance footage taken from outside the church. He said the “weight of a symbol” such as a swastika elevates the charge to a potential hate crime.

The German Nazi party adopted the ancient design, and white supremacists have since used it to promote their beliefs. Reported hate crimes against Muslims, Jews and other groups have risen nationwide over the past year. On Friday, Lauren Kirk-Coehlo was sentenced to five years of probation for vandalizing a Davis mosque.

“Clearly our default position is going to be that it’s bias-related until we find otherwise,” McPhail said.

O’Reilly said the parish is an inclusive community and the congregation isn’t getting worked up about the incident.

“We need to pray for people who do such things,” he said.

McPhail asked that anyone who may have witnessed the vandalism call Sacramento detectives at 916-808-0650.

Ellen Garrison: 916-321-1920, @EllenGarrison

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