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Brookside volunteers repair anti-LGBTQ graffiti at church: ‘Love overcomes’

A young boy uses a small paint roller to roll green paint on a door that has a sign painted on it that reads "open." He is standing on a large lawn. There are six other signs lined up on either side of the green door. They follow in color from left to right: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. They read "God's doors are open to all."
Carlos Moreno
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KCUR 89.3
Jude Switzer rolls on the last strokes of green paint Thursday on one of the doors that were vandalized overnight in front of Kansas City United Church of Christ. His uncle Scott Switzer lives nearby and noticed the vandalism early in the morning.

The incident at a Brookside church is the second act of anti-LGBTQ+ vandalism this week.

Six brightly colored doors, inscribed in black and white lettering with the phrase, “God’s doors are open to all” stand in front of the Kansas City United Church of Christ in Brookside — a tribute to the church’s long standing acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. But in an overnight act of vandalism Wednesday, the words “pervs” and “repentance” were scrawled across the doors in big, white lettering. The church’s pride flag was also stripped from its flagpole and stolen.

Community volunteers were quick to respond Thursday afternoon. Scott Switzer lives next door to the church. He said he jumped into action when someone sent him a photo of the vandalism.

“My family is in the painting business, so we went up to Sherwin Williams and bought 'em the rollers and brushes and frames and got done,” said Switzer, explaining the church had leftover paint.

“It's gone just as quickly as it was up. I think it's a good message that love overcomes that hate just as fast,” he said.

Emily Stott, a secretary for the Kansas City United Church of Christ, said this is not the first time the church has been vandalized. In May, a rainbow flag decal on the church’s outdoor sign was spray painted over. As a response to the vandalism and to commemorate Pride Month, church members built the door display. Stott said when she learned of the doors being defaced, she felt frightened and overwhelmed.

“I'm a queer person myself, so it's pretty scary to see something like that happening,” she said.

Six doors painted from left to right: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple sit on a lawn in front of a church. They are painted with small black letters that read: "God's doors are open to all." But they have been vandalized with the letters P-E-R-V-S Repentance."
Scott Switzer
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The doors on the lawn in front of Kansas City United Church of Christ early Thursday morning after being vandalized overnight.

Stott said the church does not have security cameras, but both instances have prompted them to look into improving their security. She said she made a police report Thursday morning, and she’s hoping neighbors’ doorbell cameras caught the perpetrator.

The incident at the church was the second anti-LGBTQ episode this week — a campaign banner for Jackson County legislature candidate Justice Horn was defaced with a homophobic slur over the weekend.

“One thing we're seeing is that these homophobic slurs do have a pattern to themselves as well as kind of this old age, traditional Bible-esque, you know, rhetoric that is meant to harm LGBTQ folks,” Horn told KCUR, in response vandalism at the church.

Horn filed a complaint with the FBI Hate Crimes Division Thursday morning over the destruction of his banner.

Stott said she feels like homophobic people have been empowered to act on their hate by politicians, and she worries things could get worse.

“It feels dangerous, you know, to be in a place that is so open. Because I think people are getting more violent as time goes on,” she said.

The door display was meant to be temporary, but Stott said the church now plans to keep the doors around for a while to show people they are not backing down.

“Our message of love is stronger than anyone's message of hate,” she said. “We really want everybody to know that no matter what happens, we're always going to be advocates LGBTQIA community.”

Bek Shackelford-Nwanganga is a freelance reporter for KCUR 89.3.
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