The FBI has launched an investigation in a rural Florida county where three predominately black churches have been defaced with the letters “KKK.” The latest case took place Wednesday afternoon when members of Mount Olive Primitive Baptist Church in Crawfordville spotted the letters on the side of their church before choir practice, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.
"The whole community is in shock right now that we still have these things occurring," Wakulla County NAACP Organizing Committee President Anginita Rosier said.
The first incident took place Sunday when church signs for the New Bridge Hope Missionary Baptist Church and Pilgrim Rest P.B. Church in Crawford were spray-painted with the letters “KKK.” Several street signs and a truck near the Wildwood Golf Club were also vandalized.
The FBI is working with local authorities on the apparent hate crimes. Authorities have collected paint samples from street signs and created tire molds from a field behind Mount Olive church. One suspect has been cleared in Sunday’s vandalism. Authorities said they were pursuing three more suspects on Thursday. A $5,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest, Wakulla County Sheriff Charlie Creel said.
Community members are divided over whether the comments reflect racist sentiment in the county or are the work of “somebody that's just bored,” Sheriff Creel said. He adds that he does not think it’s an “active group” in the area but a group of people who want to “stir stuff up.”
The problem may lie in the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office itself. On Dec. 2, five deputies were suspended over comments they made on Facebook about the grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Fergusin Missouri last August.
“Damn cockroaches! Squash ’em all!!!! I say we rally for Wilson, who’s with me?” Wakulla County Deputy Richard Moon wrote, referring to the protesters.
Since that news broke, local NAACP leaders hosted town hall meetings to discuss the aftermath of the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and issues within their local community. "The key thing is to keep the community involved and keep the community educated and engaged," Dale Landry, vice president of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, said.