By Anh Le
St. Paul Tabernacle Baptist Church in San Francisco’s Bayview District is the latest African American church that has been vandalized, targeted by what appears to be have been hate crimes.
The church, located at 1789 Oakdale St., just a block from the City College of San Francisco’s Southeast Campus, was vandalized on the evening of Aug. 27 or the early morning hours of Aug. 28.
“The attack on our church, that’s the devil at work. The building does not belong to us. It’s the Lord’s House,” said Beverly Taylor, who has been a member of the church for many years.
“They attacked the Lord when they attacked the Lord’s House,” she said. “In the Scriptures, the Lord says, ‘A weapon used against me will never stand. I will repay them.”
Taylor also said that the vandalism against the church impacted the church’s food pantry work, which distributes food to the poor. However, she said that the church will continue its food pantry work, one of its ministries for the Bayview community.
According to Capt. Raj Vaswani of the San Francisco Police Department’s (SFPD) Bayview Station, the police received a call about 5 a.m. Aug. 28.
“I sent my supervisors out to the church,” Vaswani said. “The (vandalism) had offensive language, the most serious,” he said.
He said that the crime is being investigated by SFPD’s Special Investigations Division. “We looked at any videos, the premise of the general area, physical evidence.”
“We want to give the church full support, to the people who go there. It’s traumatic, what happened at the church. The church is hurt, the people who go there, their operations. It is a hate crime,” Vaswani stated.
According to Sgt. Tony Damato of the Special Investigations Division, “Somebody broke into the church. (They) spray painted the walls. (They) damaged the sheet rock. (They) ripped the cushions on the pews. Things were tossed around.
“It is being investigated as a hate crime,” he said. “We will look for the individual or individuals who vandalized this church. When we find that person or the people involved, we will arrest them. The investigation is ongoing.”
Alvie Esparza of the SFPD’s Media Relations Unit said, “The church was broken into. “(There was) painted derogatory language and racist, homophobic, and religious graffiti. (There was) property damage. (There were) vandalized tables, desk, computer.”
“(We) canvassed the area and the building. (We are looking for) the suspect or suspects. This type of behavior is not condoned in San Francisco,” said Esparza.
According to a report on KTVU-TV, the vandalism at the church included bleach being poured on the cushions of the church’s pews.
SFPD issued a flyer on Sept. 1, to request the public’s help in its investigation. Anyone with information should call the Special Investigations Division at (415) 553-1133.
A fundraiser has been set up to help St. Paul’s pay for repairs.
The fundraiser is being organized by Showing Up for Social Justice (SURJ), a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice.
SURJ’s San Francisco chapter is collecting donations to show support for the church. The online fundraiser can be viewed at:
The San Francisco Police Department’s Anonymous Tip Line is (415) 575-4444. The Case Number is 150753107. Or contact the police department’s Special Investigations Division at (415) 553-1133.
Anh Le is a writer and independent journalist.