Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Possible Anti-Mormon Hate Crime In Oregon; West Linn High School Library Trashed, Vandals Wrote "Mormons Suck"
Police and school officials in West Linn, Oregon are investigating what they believe started as a student prank but later degenerated into a hate crime. Full story published by OregonLive.com, aired with video on KPTV Channel 12 in Portland.
Intruders apparently broke into West Linn High School early on Tuesday May 27th, 2008, using marking pens to leave graffiti on the walls, including a Nazi swastika. In the school library, the intruders placed the Book of Mormon on a desk, circled its title with a marking pen, then wrote "Mormons suck" on the desk. Additionally, the intruders glued more than a dozen locks shut, threw an estimated 800 library books on the floor of the hallway and tied together the "crash bars" of several exit doors. A damage estimate is not yet available.
The school had security on duty at the time. However, Sgt. Neil Hennelly, West Linn police spokesman, said the intruders apparently staged a diversion to keep a security guard occupied, then slipped into the school through another entrance. School authorities suspect high school seniors may be responsible. If caught, they will be disciplined up to and including expulsion, according to Roger Woehl, West Linn-Wilsonville school superintendent.
What makes it a possible hate crime is not only the anti-Mormon slogans, but also the fact that the school librarian is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is not known if the perps were aware of the librarian's religion. In this case, the use of a swastika was most likely for nuisance purposes and not representative of any ideological belief. Teenagers frequently spray-paint swastikas simply to get attention; serious national socialist activists eschew such tactics.
In Oregon, intimidating someone on the basis of their religion is a hate crime. If more than one person is involved, it can be a felony. The FLDS situation in Texas is considered responsible for a slight upsurge in anti-Mormon incidents nationwide.
West Linn is an upscale, overwhelmingly-white suburban community of around 25,000 just 10 miles south or Portland.