CLINTON, Iowa – Police aren’t taking any chances as they investigate a hate crime at a church on the city’s east side, and church officials have stepped up their vigilance, too.
Police presence has been increased in the area around the church at 238 S. Fourth Ave., after a church bus was vandalized outside the church nearly 2 weeks ago.
The Clinton Police Department is investigating the crime as third-degree criminal mischief – hate crime with damage over $500.
Senior Pastor Jerry Drake said he pulled into the back entrance of the church on the morning of April 27 to see the door of a church bus pried open and “N–––r Die Soon 1488” written on the door in permanent maker. Bus seats were also defaced with the same statement along with images of a gun scope.
The church’s congregation is predominantly black.
The numbers 1488 are a combination of two popular white supremacist numeric symbols: 14, which is shorthand for the “14 Words” slogan, “we must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”; and 88, which stands for “Heil Hitler” (H being the eighth letter of the alphabet).
The church purchased the bus 2 weeks prior to the incident.
“You can’t take anybody lightly with that anymore. You have to take it really serious with everything that is going on today,” Drake said, referencing the Burnette Chapel shooting in Nashville.
He said they’re not limiting who can come to church, but, “we’re being more cautious. We are more aware of who is coming in and out of church.”
Drake said police have monitored the area during services and that the church has opened visibility at the front doors.
“We can’t take this lightly anymore,” he said. “This is a hate crime. It is targeting a particular race.”
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