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Hillsborough authorities investigating mobile home fire and anti-Trump graffiti in Mango


MANGO – Authorities are investigating anti-Donald Trump graffiti at a mobile home and a fire that broke out at another mobile home next door.

Firefighters were called to 10830 Bryan Road about 1:20 a.m. Monday and found a small fire burning inside the vacant home, said Corey Dierdorff, spokesman for Hillsborough County Fire Rescue. Crews quickly put out the fire and damage to the home was minor. Dierdorff said arson is suspected.

Written in black paint on the mobile home next door were the words “F— Trump,” “Burn everything” and “BLM,” an abbreviation used for the Black Lives Matter movement. An arrow pointed to the house where the fire started.

That and similar graffiti scrawled on another home in the neighborhood may be connected to the arson, said Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office spokesman Larry McKinnon.

Anyone with information is asked to call the fire department’s arson investigator at (813) 233-4156 or Crime Stoppers, (800) 873-8477.

Meantime, St. Petersburg police are investigating after swastikas and graffiti were scrawled in chalk on the sidewalk in front of the King of Peace Metropolitan Community Church, 3150 5th Ave. N.

Next to the swastikas were the numbers 14 and 88, which are associated with the white supremacist movement, and the letters “MAGA.” Those letters have become shorthand for Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America great again.”

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 14 stands for the “14 words” slogan coined by the late David Lane, a cofounder of a white-power revolutionary group sentenced to 190 years in federal prison for his part in the assassination of a Jewish talk show host: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

The 88 means “Heil Hitler” because ‘H’ is the eighth letter of the alphabet.

The graffiti was scrawled just feet away from a church marquee that reads, “Love one another please – God.”

The Rev. Candace Shultis called police after discovering the graffiti Monday morning. St. Petersburg police were at the church investigating, department spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez said Monday.

It’s unclear why a Christian church would be targeted with anti-Semitic graffiti. King of Peace serves a congregation that’s largely lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. Shultis said.

She said she believes it’s a sign that “the underbelly of hate in America” exposed by the divisive presidential election.

“I think it’s an indicator that a certain amount of hate speech has been unleashed and made appropriate in our country, and it terrifies me, especially as the pastor of a church that’s predominantly LGBT,” Shultis said.

“I believe it’s done by someone who intends to intimidate, and we will not be intimidated. Our message is very different than the message chalked on our sidewalk and we will continue to proclaim loving, not hating.”

Shultis snapped photos with her phone and then scrubbed off the graffiti with water and a brush.

“I didn’t want it to be there any longer than it needed to be,” she said.

Contact Tony Marrero at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.

Hillsborough authorities investigating mobile home fire and anti-Trump graffiti in Mango 11/14/16
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