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

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

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

But Monday morning, it was covered with graffiti.

“Dismayed,” said church deacon St. Armistad, describing his reaction. “I mean, why? All that came to mind.”

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

“Everybody is on disability that’s here,” Armistad says. “Except for some young ones that attend (sometimes). You know how young people don’t attend 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,” says Lowndes County Sheriff Eddie Hawkins.

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

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

The deacon says the congregation includes just four to five people, all over the age of 60, and abortion was not a topic of any recent sermons.

“We’re not political,” Armistad says.

In fact, Armistad says their church is not an ideal location for anyone to spread their political message.

“I read on there, ‘We have a right to be heard,'” he says. “How can you be heard out here in the country when you got to drive like 13 miles to see it? (This is) something like a wilderness.”

“It’s a small church, it’s isolated, not many vehicles are traveling down this road,” Sheriff Hawkins says.

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

“We’re trying to ask for the public’s help because this is such a rural area,” the sheriff says. “There’s not many people that come out in this area very often.”

All members of the church are African American but both Armistad and the sheriff say there is no evidence that this was a hate crime.

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

Categories: Featured, Local News