Iowa City church standing strong after defaced with racial vandalism

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - People attending an Iowa City church Sunday morning discovered spray-painted swastikas, bible verses and obscene language on the church's exterior.

"I think the person that did this was basically a coward," said Tony Burtch. "I can't say that enough."

Burtch said when he first saw the graffiti, it upset him beyond belief. After violent endings to places of worship, like in the case of the Charleston shooting, it's also scared others.

"You read about things happening in America, people being shot in church and all that. This strikes a little bit closer to home and all that."

Burtch said it's something that shouldn't come as a surprise, though.

"The Bible tells us, as Christians we're going to be persecuted and we have to stand strong. What would we look like if we decided we're not going to come to church because somebody wrote something on the wall?" said Burtch.

The church has since added cameras to watch over people to address the lingering fear and to catch anyone who might be up to no to good.

Pastor Dayrin Lovan said she doesn't wish those responsible harm, she actually offers help.

"Maybe they have pain or are hurt. We don't know their background so we can't say something negative either," said Lovan. "I just continue to pray for them and that they understand the real gospel. I hope they understand what we believe in, Jesus and the love of Christ."

The person or people who did it would be facing, at the least, criminal mischief for defacing the property. If the motivation was to scare members of a certain religion or other group, it could be a hate crime. If the motivation was to scare members of a certain religion or other group, it could be a hate crime.

"It's clearly unwelcomed in Iowa City for any type of graffiti or any speech that is negative about another group of people," said Iowa City Police Sergeant Derek Frank.

Those with any information are asked to call Iowa City Police or Crimestoppers.