EVERETT (CBS) – An act of vandalism that was reported at Zion Baptist Church in Everett Thursday morning is now being characterized as a hate crime by Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria.

According to Bishop Robert G. Brown of Zion Ministries, the church’s office manager noticed around 9 a.m. that a cross originally located outside of the building had been pulled out of the ground.

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The cross was later discovered to have been thrown onto another property.

“This was not an accident but a hate crime against Zion Ministries and their community,” wrote Mayor DeMaria in a Facebook post Thursday. “As Mayor, I’m repulsed and distraught that someone would intentionally vandalize a religious organization in our community. There is absolutely no room for any hate in Everett.”

The Zion Baptist Church cross that was taken out of the ground. (WBZ-TV)

Brown told WBZ-TV that the cross had been in the ground for “two to three years” before it was pulled out.

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“It’s just unfortunate that something like this has happened. We don’t know what brought it on. We’re not sure of everything. But our prayer is that we will find the answers, and hopefully this will never happen again,” Brown said. “I’m not looking for it to turn into anything more than it is, but I also know the day and age that we’re in, one thing will start and then escalate as it has in so many other places. And our prayer is that it does not happen here.”

Mayor DeMaria said police are investigating the incident and the person responsible will be held accountable. “It’s repulsive. We’re disappointed, we’re distraught,” DeMaria said. “Removing a cross from a place of worship is a hate crime.”

Brown reassured that the cross will be put back on display again some time soon.

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“The cross will go back up. We’re not going to be deterred from doing that,” Brown said. “It is a symbol of our faith, and we’re not going to let anybody move us from that at all.”

CBSBoston.com Staff