CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – A Charlotte pastor is concerned for his congregation after finding a shotgun shell and a message containing racial slurs on his church sign.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police took a report on the incident Friday morning at Wedgewood Church.
The church’s sign along busy Tyvola Road reads, “Stop killing, disrespecting black people.”
The church’s leader sent WBTV a photograph of a shotgun shell in a bag along with a note that reads, “How about the no-good gangster [racial slur] who murdered my friend’s brother and wife. Should I respect them? Should I use my next shell on your sign or the gangsters? There names and pictures are all over the news.”
The note is signed, “Concerned Citizen.”
Chris Ayers, the leader of Wedgewood Church, said it’s the second time the sign, with the same message, has been vandalized in the past week.
“We are doing our part to change the world, and part of the way we do that mission is with our signs,” Ayers said.
Last week, Ayers said someone taped several white strips of paper over the word “black.” He’s concerned about the safety of his members.
“We’re a congregation that’s interracial, about half of our congregation is LGBT. We are a congregation where people have been beaten up on by the rest of society,” said Ayers.
A couple of men working on a house across the street saw a police officer looking at the sign with Ayers Friday morning. They had no idea what the note said until they saw the picture.
“I think it can be disruptive to some people, which I think too is the purpose behind it sometimes, not necessarily to offend people, but to catch people’s attention, and I think that you’re going to get things like that. That’s going to happen when you try to make a statement like that,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers said he felt the vandal was aggressive in leaving the message and the shotgun shell. Neighbors in the area were surprised to hear of two reports in the past week.
“I think that’s very mean and disgusting, and I dont feel like that represents our neighborhood. I’m surprised seeing this in our neighborhood, I don’t feel like that would come from the kind of people who live here,” said Courtney Clark, who lives a few doors down from the church.
Ayers said he’s praying for the person who left the note.
“I’m sorry for their loss. However, striking out with violent language, putting this on our sign is not the right way to deal with grief,” Ayers said.
Wedgewood Church hired two CMPD officers for security after the shooting at The Pulse in Orlando, Ayers said. The church’s message is still on the sign outside the billboard, though the note and shotgun shell have been removed. Ayers hopes passing drivers will stop and think when they read it.
“We do have a race problem in Charlotte, in the United States, and we don’t need to put our head in the sand about it,” said Ayers.
The church plans to order a digital surveillance system in hopes of deterring future vandalism. If you know anything about the vandalism, call Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police.