Last weekend, four churches in Northern California were vandalized with graffiti, adding to the long list of organizations and buildings harassed by extremists.
All four churches are located in Humboldt County, which is approximately 270 miles north of San Francisco.
They are the the Humboldt Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Bayside, the Eureka Seventh Day Adventist Church, St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Arcata, and the First Covenant Church in Eureka.
According to Times Standard, the vandalism likely “occurred between Sept. 24 and 26.”
At the Bayside church, the graffiti appeared to be “anti-conservative in nature”, with the message “Kill MAGA/Pigs,” on the side of a building.
The spray paint also read “666,” “BLM,” and “Wok-Up.”
One longtime church member was skeptical of the sincerity of the vandalism.
Chip Sharpe told Times Standard “I immediately thought that someone had chosen to deface the building and attempt to make it appear that it was leftist radicals that had done it by writing BLM and Antifa.”
“It looked to me like they were trying to say, ‘OK, this was put here by us antifa BLM nuts,’ I don’t think I would have believed that antifa or BLM, whatever that organization is, would have anything to do with it anyway,” he explained.
Sharpe also said that church members can often be seen on the corner of a local intersection “with Black Lives Matter signs and a banner denoting their church.”
At the Seventh Day Adventist Church, the vandalism was confirmed by Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Samantha Karges.
Karges confirmed to the Times Standard that Seventh Day Adventist Church also sustained “similar hate speech-type vandalism.”
Some of the churches’ representatives did not comment on the vandalism but Bridgette Garuti, the congregational administrator at the Unitarian fellowship, said the message at her church was confusing.
“It doesn’t even make sense what they wrote, quite honestly, it’s quite confusing. But it’s been identified that it was the same kind of confusing message on each one of the four (churches) in that same timeframe,” she said.
Garuti noted that the graffiti could take a while to clean up so they “just stapled a tarp over it so it’s not in everybody’s face.”
According to the sheriff’s office, the cases are being investigated as misdemeanors, but vandalism can be considered a felony if the damage amounts to over $400.
“Churches, places of faith, in general, are supposed to be safe spaces, sanctuary spaces and, unfortunately, just the knowledge of this happening, is creating a ripple, an undercurrent of people not feeling safe,” Garuti said.
Anyone with information about the vandalism is encouraged to call the sheriff’s office.