GENEVA, N.Y. (WROC) — Residents and police are searching for answers after swastikas were found spray-painted on Mount Calvary Church in Geneva.
This is the second time this has happened in the past month in Geneva — at a different location in June, swastikas and the phrase “white power” was found spray-painted on a storage shed.
“I was kind of stunned a little taken back you don’t expect these types of things to happen so close to home,” said Terrance Simmons, pastor of Mount Calvary Church.
The Geneva Police Department is investigating the racially-charged symbols as hate crime incidents.
The first complaint was reported on June 6 in an Elm Street parking lot. During their investigation, Geneva police found no witnesses, surveillance footage, or other leads.
The second complaint came after a concerned citizen notified authorities on July 15. Police responded to Mt. Calvary Church Street where they found what appeared to be two swastikas spray-painted on the side of a church. Police found no witnesses, surveillance footage, or other leads in this incident as well.
“I mean it’s disgusting, it’s disturbing, obviously we don’t stand for that,” said Geneva Police Chief Michael Passalacqua. “With the city of Geneva’s history not only with the police department, but as a community we’ve had some divides and we’ve been working tirelessly for the last number of years through the NAACP and community compact and different community organizations to bridge that divide. And whatever reason whatever the thought or the motivation is behind this that’s not acceptable.”
Juanita Aikens is the president of the Ontario County Justice Coalition. She said she doesn’t want anyone to forget about these incidents.
“I was extremely hurt and bothered, being in this area where I’ve grown and raised my family here, to see this instance not once but twice in such a short period of time I thought there would be an outpouring of community support and community involvement,” Aikens said.
City of Geneva Councilor at large Mark Gramling also released a statement regarding the incidents, saying in part:
“We are blessed to live in a community enriched with culture and diversity. Unfortunately, there seems to be a remnant who devalue and express bigotry towards Geneva’s diverse community. Leaders of the Community Compact, including Geneva Police Department, and city officials have been working together for a more inclusive Geneva and these actions go against everything we have been working together for.
This is a hate crime and these actions of racism will not be tolerated! I, as a Geneva public official, will push for perpetrators to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.