About eight decades: That’s how long New Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church has been in Delano. But this Sunday, Rev. Bill Hence Jr. says he and his wife discovered something that to his knowledge, that house of worship, hasn’t seen in its eighty years: racial slurs–across their windows, and walls–all around the building.
“So many things run through your mind,” Rev. Bill Hence Jr. told 23ABC on the phone. "This is just one of those situations, where you still love the sinner but you hate the sin.”
Sunday around noon, Delano police responded to a report of vandalism at New Allen Chapel, African Methodist, Episcopal Church, according to the Delano Police Department.
The department began investigating immediately after church officials contacted their department, according to Delano Police Chief Tyson Davis. They asked neighbors if they had any videos of the suspect or any witnesses. that day they did not find any.
“This case was forwarded to our investigations division,” Chief Davis said. “Investigators went out and canvassed the area. They also cross-reported with the FBI. This is a serious crime, a hate crime, we take those crimes seriously.”
Meanwhile, Delano Mayor Bryan Osorio told 23ABC he was shocked to hear that this would happen in Delano, as he says it does not reflect their values.
“It’s disturbing to see these actions occur, in a largely Hispanic and Latino community, we have to call it out when we see it, to be supportive of our Black community in Delano,” Mayor Osorio said.
Mayor Osorio said he has reached out to the pastor and will follow the church’s lead with how to proceed. As for the community, he urges anyone who knows anything about the incident to reach out to law enforcement.
Rev. Hence Jr. tells 23ABC that the church plans to clean up the vandalism on Saturday, before their Sunday church service.
“I speak on behalf of not only my colleagues, but the community that we do not tolerate this type of hate rhetoric [and] these types of actions, and people must be held responsible for thisI condemn these actions,'' Mayor Osorio said. “I hope that this church finds solace and comfort in knowing that they are welcome in this community.”
Delano police say they take all hate crimes seriously and are asking for your help in investigating this case. If you have any information, you are asked to call Detective Contreras (661-720-5532). You can also call the Delano Police Department TipLine (661-721-3369). They ask that you use the reference case number: 22-02424.