The sky-blue St. Joseph Grand Lodge sits on the corner of North Fremont and Mississippi, host to community events and meetings of the Sons of Haiti Baptist church. This morning, it was covered with swastikas and hate-speech. The culprits also spray-painted swastikas on the food carts, like King Burrito, parked next door to the lodge.
"I've never seen nothing like this," said Hall, 75, as she surveyed the damage this afternoon, talking with passerby who stopped to ask what had happened. "Portland has never been this way, never this bold. Ridiculous! They're stupid!"
"How do they know it's black people who come to church here? They've been watching it," chimed in Chauntell Lawrence, 35, who was raised in the neighborhood and has been coming to the lodge her whole life. The graffiti will remain on the building until at least this weekend, when the lodge leaders return from a conference in Seattle. "Maybe people just need to see it and know it's still happening," said Lawrence.
Police are investigating the tagging as a bias crime. If anyone know anything about who might have done the tagging, call the detective on the case at 503-823-3761.
Meanwhile, people looking to support the center are welcome for lunch tomorrow, say Hall and Lawrence. The group has long planned to host a fundraiser lunch and garage sale tomorrow from 11am-6pm, selling catfish and chicken meals for $10.
More photos with strong language below the cut.