Graffiti spray-painted on Millwood Community Presbyterian Church gave Pastor Craig Goodwin pause.
On the brick steeple is a roughly spray-painted pentagram. Above the main entrance “Skate or die” is scrawled in green.
Goodwin, unsure what to think, posed this question on his Facebook page after the graffiti was found Tuesday morning: “Edgy new church marketing campaign or the work of some local hoodlums? What do you think?”
The answers ranged from humorous to praying for the perpetrators.
“It’s discouraging,” Goodwin said. “I wasn’t sure what to do, but the Bible talks about seeking to love and bless those who persecute you.”
At this point, authorities don’t believe the church itself was targeted. Graffiti “is just random,” said Spokane County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Craig Chamberlin.
Deputies responded to the church tucked in the residential neighborhood next to railroad tracks. No suspects have emerged at this point.
“We’ll press on,” Goodwin said.
Efforts to wipe out graffiti and tagging throughout the region are ongoing. Overall, instances are down this year, according to data from Spokane County, the city of Spokane and Spokane Public Schools.
Spokane Valley and unincorporated areas of Spokane County are on pace to have fewer reports of graffiti in 2014 than last year. On the other hand, there have already been six reports of graffiti in Millwood, twice as many as last year’s total.
Spokane has had hundreds of reports, although detailed data was not available on Tuesday, said Jonathan Mallahan, city of Spokane’s director of community and neighborhood services. The city of Spokane’s data show that 25 percent of the spray-painted scrawls are gang graffiti and 75 percent is tagging, such as names, initials or rough pictures, Mallahan said. The profile of those who do it “is younger men.”
While Spokane County authorities see little difference in graffiti or tagging instances during the summer months when school is out, Spokane officials say there is a peak in warmer months.
The targets are often bridges and transportation, Mallahan said. Police rarely hear from residents, because they take care of it themselves.
The city of Spokane is working to track graffiti and tagging better in the future. Data will be more robust and electronic. Authorities will respond to inspect, address and report appropriately.
Additionally, if the resident can’t afford to remove the graffiti, or is elderly or disabled, then help will be offered, Mallahan said. “In those instances where people can’t do it, we want to get it removed as quickly as possible.”