Great Barrington Police are investigating an anti-Semitic graffiti incident at a downtown church as a hate crime.

As a reported in a media release, police were alerted on Sunday to the words “Nazi Kyke,” written on the Macedonia Baptist Church on Rosseter Street.

The graffiti was found Thursday by a church custodian. He did not share the discovery with church leaders until Sunday (9/27), when police were contacted.

“This is very upsetting and a terrible thing to have happened to this wonderful church,” said Chief William Walsh. “I have known Rev. Joallen Forte and her family, who have dedicated their lives to ministry and to our community.”

He and Officer Joseph O’Brien met with Rev. Forte on Sunday evening to discuss the incident and the investigation that is under way. Chief Walsh said the town has several officers working on this investigation, along with extra vigilance by patrols in the neighborhood.

“This incident has saddened and angered me deeply, and I am not alone,” said Town Manager Mark Pruhenski. “I hope I speak for all our our residents in saying that such hateful words are unacceptable on any day — and it’s especially hurtful to be opening this investigation on Yom Kippur.”

Selectboard Chair Stephen Bannon said he was shocked that such language would appear on any building in town, especially a local church. He noted that Great Barrington, in 2017, adopted the Safe Communities Trust Policy, a commitment to anti-discrimination and social justice.

“Not only does Great Barrington not tolerate hateful speech, but especially at this time of such divisiveness in our nation, we stand especially united against bigotry,” said Bannon.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact police, (413) 528-0306.

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