Authorities have charged 45-year-old Zuri C. Towns for allegedly vandalizing five black churches in New Jersey, Essence reports. Towns is being charged with four counts of fourth-degree criminal mischief.
Members of the five churches in Morristown and in Morris Township said exterior signs were damaged, and at one particular congregation, a stained-glass window was broken. According to New Jersey News, a pastor at Bethel A.M.E Church said the occurrence led a few churchgoers to stay home because they were frightened of another attack.
The institutions that were vandalized were: The Morristown Church of Christ, Union Baptist Church, The Calvary Baptist Church, The Church of God in Christ for All Saints and The Bethel A.M.E Church.
Reportedly, authorities who’re investigating the crime recently released a statement that they believe the incident was indeed a hate crime. “As a result of the investigation, no evidence was obtained that would indicate this was a bias incident which legally requires purpose to intimidate a person or group based upon their protected class,” the statement reads.
Fredric Knapp, Morris County Prosecutor, said Towns went to the services of one of the congregations he vandalized. Recent footage captured by The Church of God in Christ for All Saints, demonstrates Towns throwing a rock at one of the church’s window. After he was in custody, Towns admitted to his wrongdoing.
Governor-elect of the area, Phil Murphy, took to Twitter to express his disgruntlement over the incidents.
Disgusted by reported vandalism of African-American churches across Morristown. These cowardly acts will not shake our faith. They will renew our determination to come together as one NJ. -PM
— Phil Murphy (@PhilMurphyNJ) November 26, 2017
Here are other reactions to this news:
Disturbing yet utterly predictable residual effects of the emboldened Trump electorate on shameful display. Most accept/celebrate our diverse society, but others struggle with this cultural reality. The number of decent people in M’town far exceed the threatened few. #endracism
— Cheryl Easley (@viscerale1) November 26, 2017
I lived in Morris county for 23 years and it seems to becoming a breeding ground for racism smh
— JW (@jwhitejr) November 26, 2017
Towns is awaiting a court date. Further details for this story are still pending.