New York City, N.Y., Mar 1, 2019 / 12:15 am (CNA).- New York police officials have declared an act of vandalism against a statue at a local Catholic church last week to be a hate crime.
The incident occurred at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
“At approximately 12 p.m. noon on Wednesday, February 20, 2019, a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt entered the Church, removed the statue of Our Lady of Cisne and threw it in the trash across the street, causing damage to the statue,” the Diocese of Brooklyn said in a statement.
A parish staff member retrieved the statue, and the police were notified.
The police department has released a surveillance video showing the vandal taking the statue. Police are still looking for the suspect. The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is heading the investigation, the diocese said.
Our Lady of Cisne is the patroness of Loja, Ecuador. The Virgin Mary is depicted holding the baby Jesus. Many Ecuadorean immigrants in the United States have a strong devotion to Our Lady of Cisne.
Last week’s incident was the second act of vandalism at the church over the past month, the diocese said.
“The Diocese of Brooklyn strongly condemns this incident of religious hatred and is fully cooperating with the New York City Police Department’s investigation,” said parish administrator Father Willy Kingsley Ndi.
He said in a statement that the act of vandalism “has not deterred, but only strengthened, the resolve and faith of the parishioners.”