Family coping with cross burning
March 21, 2011
Following the discovery of an 11-foot cross burning outside their home on Friday at 12:30 a.m., a mother and her African-American daughter say they are fearful in their own home and are planning to move.
When the daughter and a friend who was spending the night heard what sounded like a large truck along with other vehicles pull up to their home, and then banging they went out on the back porch and saw no one. The girls then went back to the bedroom, turned off the light and saw a large cross fully engulfed in flames outside the window.
Police arrived and put out the flames with the family’s garden hose. Several media reports said some city leaders did not want the incident labeled a hate crime and said that it could be a prank.
“It is not a prank when you burn a cross outside someone’s home, this is a serious crime,” the mother said.
Arroyo Grande Police Chief Steven Annibali said he did not refer to the burning of the cross as a prank and has asked several additional agencies to assist in the investigation.
A multi-agency partnership that includes the FBI, the Department of Justice, Arroyo Grande Police and the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s department is investigating the burning of the cross as a hate crime.
About two weeks ago, the cross had been stolen from St. John’s Lutheran Church in Arroyo Grande where it was bolted down in the church parking lot.
On Sunday, members of the parish prayed for the family and signed a card of condolence.
“We want them to know we love and care for them,” said pastor Randy Ouimette. “We want the wrong doers to be apprehended.”