BY ANDREAS BUTLER
One historically Black church in Daytona Beach has had a bizarre week.
Two separate incidents haven’t sparked fears but have raised questions and eyebrows.
On Tuesday morning, a woman found a sign on the door of Mt. Bethel Baptist Institutional Church, 700 S. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
The note read: “Wake up you ‘Niggers’ God is trying to tell you something.”
It was signed by “The Silent Preacher” in red ink. The rest was written in black ink.
Mt. Bethel has the distinction of being the city’s oldest Black church. On June 22, the church will turn 134 years old.
Pamela Michelle Robinson told the Daytona Times that her nephew and his girlfriend were riding by the church and saw the sign posted outside on the church’s bulletin board. They showed it to her and she posted it online.
“This is appalling,” Robinson said. She told the Times that she recently moved back to Daytona from Georgia and has attended the church in the past.
A week earlier, someone ran a vehicle into the church’s marquee sign, completely destroying it.
“A lady hit the church sign with their car last Monday morning. The police have a full report. The online social media post with the word, “Nigger,” about Mt. Bethel is all I know at this point,” said Andrew Moore, chairman of the church’s trustee board.
‘We are aware’
The church doesn’t believe the first incident had any racial undertones, but they are staying “watching’’ out for anything suspicious relating to the derogatory note taped to the church.
“We’ve checked into the incident with the sign on social media. We are aware. We didn’t see anything else or anything suspicious on the church property – neither did our church workers,” said Moore.
He further stated, “I can’t speak for all churches but only Mt. Bethel. Accidents are accidents. The lady who hit the sign just was in an accident. The thing online we’re watching. We don’t know anything at this point.”
As far as the note taped to the church that was posted on Facebook, police have received nothing else related to it.
“We have received no reports on this matter as of this time,” confirmed Sgt. Kelsey Harris of the Daytona Beach Police Department.
The church leadership is aware of recent incidents in the country targeting Black churches.
In Louisiana over a 10-day period, three historically Black Baptist churches were burned down in the St. Landry parish. The churches are all located in rural areas.
St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre was destroyed in a fire on March 26. Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas burned down on April 2.
Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, on Highway 182 south of Opelousas, burned down on April 4.
Taking it seriously
The Daytona Beach church is taking precaution.
“We are aware of the Black historical church burnings. We are always concerned about people’s well-being and safety. We are concerned. We hope it’s nothing serious or a racially motivated, violence-intended incident,” Moore noted.
The Daytona Beach police spokesman said the department is taking precaution as well.
“We are always concerned for public safety. We are always conducting patrols. We will look into any matter,” Harris said. “We ask people to always be observant and careful. We ask people if they see anything, say something.”