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By Mike Hazlip–
A statue of Mary was found beheaded and a large swastika was spray painted on a prominent monument of the Ten Commandments outside Holy Family Catholic Church on Old Auburn Road last week.
Citrus Heights Police Sgt. William Dunning told The Sentinel in a phone call Saturday that officers on patrol first spotted the vandalism in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Police suspect the incident occurred sometime between 5:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 17, and 3:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Dunning said the incident is being investigated as a hate crime.
Repairs have already been completed on the statue according to a statement issued by the church. Graffiti on the Ten Commandments monument has also since been removed. The statement called for calm amid what it described as feelings of anger among parishioners.
“We cannot change the fact this has happened,” the statement said. “We can, however, choose how we respond to this. It is an opportunity for prayer and forgiveness rather than frustration and anger.”
The Catholic Telegraph news outlet carried the story saying vandalism at Catholic parishes is on the rise. Parishes across the country have seen similar acts of destruction in recent months, according to the report.
Photos circulated online of the Citrus Heights incident show a left-facing swastika drawn in what appears to be white spray paint on the Ten Commandments monument. The statue of Mary is shown in a separate photo, with another image showing her head on the ground.
Typically, swastikas associated with Nazism and white supremacy are right facing. It is unknown if the reversed direction is intentional.
Another left-facing swastika drawn in red on a beam of the Rusch park picnic area is still visible from a previous vandalism incident.
Police do not have a suspect and are asking the public to contact the department’s non-emergency number at 916-727-5500 with any information related to the crime.
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