Black Church Vandalized for Third Time This Year

Row of empty church pews.
Credit: Thinkstock

MELBOURNE, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say the vandalism of a predominantly black church on Florida’s Space Coast was a hate crime.

Melbourne Police Department officials told a news conference Monday that they are offering a cash award for information leading to any arrests. Police say vandals wrote “SS Charleston 2” on the side of a pickup truck parked at New Shiloh Christian Church and then ransacked a section of the church.

Police say they believe the graffiti refers to the June 17 massacre of nine churchgoers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

It’s the third time in six months New Shiloh has been vandalized. Florida Today reports ( ) that the 1,500-member church previously was set on fire, and that juveniles later scrawled a swastika and spray-painted a noose on a storage unit.