A rash of bigoted graffiti has cropped up in Trenton, N.J.
Several troubling taggings appeared last weekend on various buildings in the Garden State's capital, reports The Trentonian.
First, the Trenton Church of God of Prophecy was marked in red with Satanic references like "666" and, "Suck the devil's dick." Second, a swastika, a drawing of a phallus, and an antigay message, "Fags live here," defaced a stairwell connecting two homes.
Rick Geers, the owner of the homes, said that his tenants are not gay. However, he is taking the incident, which occurred sometime Saturday morning, seriously. His wife is Jewish.
"I'm not going to pooh-pooh the whole thing," Geers told The Trentonian as he worked to paint over the hateful language and symbols. "If you look down the block, this was a ready-made canvas for some stupid [person]. We're not taking it lightly."
Reed Gusciora made history last year when he was elected the first out gay mayor of Trenton, a moment that was seen as a turning point in the city's LGBTQ acceptance.
However, in responding to the taggings, Gusciora acknowledged the spike in hate crimes across the United States. Hate crimes jumped 17 percent in 2017, according to a report from the FBI. The rise has coincided with the divisive language of President Trump.
"Hate speech has no place in a diverse city such as Trenton," Gusciora told The Trentonian. "It has caused alarm. We hope this is a singular incident and not a pattern. This also seems to be reverberating across the county, the freely practiced politics of destruction."
The Trenton police department is investigating the incidents as bias crimes. In the best-case scenario, Gusciora hopes the perpetrators are just "a couple of idiots who don't have anything better to do with a can of spray paint" or a "couple juveniles who want to create mischief."
"There is always pockets of hate everywhere you go," Gusciora said. "I don't think we have a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan or white supremacists here. We might have a couple people who are indoctrinated, but I don't think there's any organized hate groups. We don't want anyone to make a habit of this. We want to send a strong message that we're not tolerating this. If we can find the perpetrators, they will be punished to the full extent of the law."
Anyone with information about these crimes is encouraged to call (609) 989-4155.