Graffiti reading ‘rape’ and ‘incest’ written on a vandalized small church in Lowndes County

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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a case of vandalism at Mount Avery Missionary Baptist Church in Columbus.

All was well when church members left their place of worship on Nashville Ferry Road on Sunday.

But Monday morning, it was covered in graffiti.

“Appalled,” the deacon of St. Armistad Church said, describing his reaction. “I mean, why? All of this came to mind.

Armistad says it was just before 2:30 p.m. Monday when another church member told him about the vandalism.

“Everybody’s on disability here,” Armistad says. “Except for some young people who attend (sometimes). You know how young people don’t go to church anymore.

It was Armistad who called the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department.

“(The vandals) are trying to send some kind of message and we’re trying to figure out what that message might be,” Lowndes County Sheriff Eddie Hawkins said.

The graffiti included messages such as “Girls just want to have basic human rights”, “Keep your laws out of my body” and multiple comments about rape and incest. There was also a rough drawing of what appeared to be a sexual assault.

“There’s a lot of information about women’s rights,” Sheriff Hawkins said. “But why here? Why this church?

The deacon says the congregation consists of only four to five people, all over the age of 60, and abortion has not been the subject of any recent sermons.

“We are not political,” says Armistad.

In fact, Armistad says their church is not a great place to spread their political message.

“I read about it: ‘We have the right to be heard,'” he says. “How can you be heard here in the country when you have to drive about 13 miles to see it? (It is) something like a desert.

“It’s a small church, it’s isolated, there aren’t many vehicles on that road,” says Sheriff Hawkins.

Which also means finding witnesses will be even more difficult for law enforcement.

“We’re trying to ask the public for help because it’s such a rural area,” the sheriff said. “There aren’t many people who go out very often in this neighborhood.”

All church members are African American, but Armistad and the sheriff say there is no evidence it was a hate crime.

Anyone with information about this incident, especially the video, should call the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department at (662) 328-6788.

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