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Vandalism arrest called hate crime against Korean Baptist congregation

MINNEAPOLIS (BP)–A Minneapolis man has been arrested and charged with vandalizing the First Korean Baptist Church and prosecutors said they will contend the vandalism was a hate crime.

Adrian Stanton Luce, 22, was arraigned in a Hennepin County courthouse Jan. 25 on felony charges that he painted racial epithets and a swastika last November on a church van and the doors and walls of the sanctuary owned by the Korean Southern Baptist congregation. If convicted, Luce would face a maximum of five years in prison.

“This was a crime that shocked and deeply disturbed our community,” said Amy Klobuchar, a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office. “Given the highly offensive nature of the vandalism, we will be arguing that this is a hate crime and we want a tougher penalty.”

Despite pleas from the district attorney’s office, Luce was released Jan. 25 in lieu of a $15,000 bond. His next scheduled court appearance is in March.

Klobuchar said Luce admitted to the vandalism in December, claiming he had been intoxicated. “He said he thought it was a dream until he woke up and discovered paint on his hands,” she said.

The spray-painted messages conveyed hatred toward blacks, women and homosexuals but did not specifically attack Asians. The words “Tourette’s Syndrome” also were sprayed onto the church and that gave authorities the clue they needed to locate Luce. “Tourette’s Syndrome” is the name of Luce’s garage band.

The 150 members of this Southern Baptist congregation weren’t the only ones shocked by the crime. The Jewish Community Relations Council stepped in and started a community-wide effort to help the church repair damages.

“The Torah, Koran and the Gospels teach us that we are all created in the image of God. Therefore, an attack on a house of God is an attack on the dignity of humanity,” said Steven M. Hunegs, president of the council. “We stand in solidarity with the Korean First Baptist Church, the Korean-American community and other organizations that condemn this frontal assault on tolerance and decency.”

Shep Harris, the council’s director of public affairs, said a number of churches participated in a cleanup day to repair the vandal’s work.

Wayne Bandy, the director of missions for the Twin Cities Baptist Association, said good has come from bad. “At first, it seemed to be a devastating thing, but this has been a strengthening factor in recognizing the impact that church has in the community,” Bandy said. “The outpouring of support has been overwhelming.”

Bandy said the Korean congregation continues to add to their ministry, including an Internet site, http://members.xoom.com/kfbc.

    About the Author

  • Todd Starnes