Tennessee Church Agrees To Mentor Teen Vandal

A predominantly black church that was vandalized has chosen reconciliation and in return has received a blessing.

Walnut Grove Missionary Baptist Church was heavily damaged, the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office said on Sept 18. “KKK” was written in Bibles and “We are white and we are watching you, white power” was written on the doors of the church. Toilets were stopped up and were overflowing.

The RCSO on Sept. 18 charged two boys, ages 14 and 16, with burglary, theft and vandalism. A video camera stolen from the church was found in the woods behind the church. A detective arrested two more boys, ages 15 and 16, and charged them with burglary and vandalism on Sept. 19.

District Attorney General Jennings H. Jones said Tennessee does not have a hate crime statute. Jones’ office will prosecute the case, and may explore the option of using a “hate crime enhancer.” That means that if the case goes to sentencing the office may ask the judge to increase the punishment if it is found the incident was committed for race or other hate crime reasons.

Church seeks to mentor suspect

The church’s pastor, the Rev. Richard W. Sibert, said the congregation spoke to the parents of one of the boys and plans to mentor the youth. The church members know all but one of the youths, who is homeschooled, he said. The others attend an alternative school. They were placed on house arrest and cannot be in contact with one another, he said.

The first youth’s parents have agreed for the church to mentor him, Sibert said. He said that he is concerned that all these boys have had problems at home or with police or juvenile authorities.

“That floored me that they are not first-time offenders,” he said.

The church congregation does not know what form the mentoring will take, the pastor said. They are waiting to hear back from the family before proceeding.

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Source: Murfreesboro Post

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