DENVER — A suspect has been charged by the Denver District Attorney’s Office with a hate crime in the vandalism of a 110-year-old Catholic cathedral.
Madeline Cramer, 26, of Denver was charged Thursday with felony criminal mischief and committing a bias-motivated crime, a misdemeanor, for allegedly spray-painting anti-Catholic and obscene graffiti on the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and surrounding statues.
The messages found Oct. 10 included an upside-down cross; “Child rapists f—ts”; “Satan” and “Satan Lives Here”; “White supremacists”; “KKK”; a possible swastika; an illuminati and an eye symbol; “Jesus was here”; “Suck my d—k,” and “Love wins,” according to the district attorney’s office.
The damage to the Denver cathedral, which was dedicated in 1912, was estimated at about $10,000.
The warrant said the suspect was confronted by a churchgoer during the incident. She turned herself in to authorities Wednesday after initially fleeing to Oregon. Her next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 14.
At least 113 U.S. instances of anti-Catholic arson, vandalism and destruction have been tracked since May 2020 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, an uptick that coincided with mass Black Lives Matter protests spurred by the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
“Incidents include arson, statues beheaded, limbs cut, smashed, and painted, gravestones defaced with swastikas and anti-Catholic language and American flags next to them burned, and other destruction and vandalism,” said the conference on its website.
Perhaps the most destructive incident was the July 2020 fire that torched the San Gabriel Mission in Los Angeles, which celebrated its 250th anniversary in September. The damage was estimated in the millions of dollars.
“We call on our elected officials to step forward and condemn these attacks. We thank our law enforcement for investigating these incidents and taking appropriate steps to prevent further harm,” said the USCCB in an Oct. 14 statement. “We appeal to community members for help as well. These are not mere property crimes – this is the degradation of visible representations of our Catholic faith. These are acts of hate.”
The conference’s Committee for Religious Liberty and Committee for Domestic Justice and Human Development have sought additional funding from the Department of Homeland Security’s non-profit security grant program.