With the promise of an increased police presence, parishioners at five Morristown, New Jersey churches will attend worship services on Sunday after their churches were vandalized. Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Bias Crimes Unit and local law enforcement agencies said on Saturday that they are investigating the attacks as bias crimes, the Daily Record reported.
“Whoever’s doing this, we want this classified as a hate crime. We’re concerned about the safety of our members… Someone targeted African American churches, and went out of their way to do it,” Pastor Sidney Williams Jr., of Bethel A.M.E. Church, told MorristownGreen.com.
The property crimes, which are believed to have happened in the early hours of Saturday, involved mainly broken stained-glass windows and damage to exterior signs, Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp said, declining to reveal the damages to specific churches. Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty said authorities are conducting a serious probe and will ensure that everyone is safe at Sunday worship services, according to MorristownGreen.com. Knapp stated that there will be an increased police presence at all local churches, and he urged the community to be vigilant and report suspicious activity.
New Jersey Governor-elect Phil Murphy described the vandalism as “cowardly acts” that “will not shake our faith” but “renew our determination to come together as one NJ,” in a Twitter post. The Rev. Jerry Carter, whose Calvary Baptist Church was among those vandalized, said he’s awaiting the outcome of the investigation into what is either a prank or a bias crime. Vandalism was reported at the Church of God in Christ for All Saints, Bethel A.M.E. Church, Calvary Baptist Church, Union Baptist Church, and Morristown Church of Christ.