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Decatur Police investigate vandalism of church sign with pro-Israel message

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Decatur Police investigate vandalism of church sign with pro-Israel message

Photo provided to Decaturish

This story has been updated. 

Decatur, GA – Decatur Police are investigating after a church sign displaying a message supporting Israel was vandalized. 

The sign of the Church at Decatur Heights, said,  “We stand with Israel” in reference to the Oct. 7 attacks against Israeli civilians by Hamas. It was spray-painted to read, “Israel’s Genocide,” which was directed at Israel’s response to those attacks. 

The church did not respond to a request for comment. 

Decatur Police Sgt. John Bender said they went to the church on Nov. 1 at 11:20 a.m. after getting a call about graffiti.

“An unknown person spray-painted an image onto a sign belonging to the church,” Bender said. “The image referenced current world events happening in the Middle East. The incident is actively being investigated by the Decatur Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division.”

Lauren Wattenmaker, a Jewish neighbor of the church, called the message “hate speech.” She said she personally cleaned the sign on Wednesday afternoon. 

I think it’s important for our community to be aware that such inflammatory and hate-driven acts are occurring so close to home,” Wattenmaker said. 

Incidents of antisemitism and Islamophobia have increased since Oct. 7.

According to Reuters, the Council on American Islamic Relations received 774 complaints of incidents motivated by Islamophobia and bias against Palestinians and Arabs between Oct. 7 and Oct. 24. The Anti-Defamation League reported a 388% rise in antisemitic incidents from Oct. 7 to Oct. 23, including 312 incidents of vandalism and assault, 190 of which were connected to the Israel-Hamas war, Reuters reported

Azka Mahmood, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations – Georgia, criticized the person who vandalized the sign.

“CAIR-Georgia does not condone any kind of vandalism,” Mahmood said. “It is in exceptionally poor form to vandalize a house of worship.”

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