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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 28, 2011

No suspect yet for defacing of Christ the King Church and statue

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND — Rev. Jim Fitzmaurice was shocked when he walked around the back of Christ the King Church on Monday morning and saw graffiti spray painted on the church’s brick wall.

“It’s the first time in my 27 years as a priest that I’ve seen graffiti on a church,” Fitzmaurice told The Enterprise. While the drawings include a smiley face, an Easter egg, and the words, “Hoppy Easter,” there is also an anarchy symbol at the beginning of a senseless word with an upside-down Christian cross, “Big Mother F---- John,” a numeral “5” that is similar to a Blood gang symbol, and the message, “Your God is not my salvation.” 

A life-size statue of Jesus that stands near the church was also defaced; female breasts and a penis were drawn on the front of it.

The Guilderland Police are conducting an investigation in an attempt to find the perpetrators, but Captain Curtis Cox said they don’t have any suspects yet.

“The fact that the graffiti is on a religious building bumps the crime up to a felony,” Cox said. He also said the act could be treated as a hate crime, because the anarchy symbol can be considered “of the occult.”

“A lot of it has to do with the intent of the people who committed the crime,” said Cox. Fitzmaurice said he just wants to know why it happened.

“We’re not vindictive in the church, but I just want to know what the reason was — was it a lark, or does someone actually have something against the church?” Fitzmaurice asked. Christ the King, at 16 Cornell Avenue, is set back off of Western Avenue.

“Things have always been pretty peaceful here; we are in a residential neighborhood off the beaten path,” said Fitzmaurice. He said he was very doubtful that any parishioner would have painted graffiti on the church.

“I don’t think I’ve made that many enemies so far,” Fitzmaurice said; he has been at Christ the King for four years. The parishioners, he said, are very upset by the incident, especially because the portion of the building that was marked up is less than 10 years old, and the church is still doing fund-raising to pay off the debt.

The original church was built in 1957, and seated only 300 parishioners. When the masses began drawing in more worshipers than there were seats, a new church was built in 2001 attached to the old building, which now seats 700 people. According to Fitzmaurice, over 1,800 people attended masses at the church on Easter Sunday, the day before the graffiti was discovered.

Fitzmaurice said he contacted the Diocesan insurance office, and the cost to clean up the graffiti will be covered; the church will need to pay a $500 deductible. The cleaning can’t begin, however, until there have been several completely dry days in a row.

In the meantime, the statue of Jesus has been wrapped in a brown tarp.

“We covered it because it really was obscene,” said Fitzmaurice. “I’m just grateful that whoever did this didn’t attempt to break into the church. It could have been worse.”

Cox said that anyone with information about the incident should call the Guilderland Police Department at 356-1980.

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