Police Seek Possible Link in City's Latest Hate Crimes : Crime: Authorities are investigating connections to work of community relations panel. Leaders of two vandalized houses of worship are members of the group.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Police are looking into the possibility that the city's two most recent hate crimes were tied to work being done by a task force created to work against such incidents, authorities said Monday.

Mayor Eileen Givens' Blue Ribbon Task Force on Community Relations is made up of more than a dozen volunteers, including a pastor and rabbi who head houses of worship that were both vandalized in the last five months.

"With the number of community members involved on the task force, I can't say there's a link," said Glendale Police Sgt. Robert MacLeod. "But I'm sure investigators will consider that."

MacLeod said police had no new information on the vandals who spray-painted 29 pieces of satanic graffiti on the exterior of the First United Methodist Church, at 134 N. Kenwood St., over the weekend.

The graffiti--which included pentagrams, inverted crosses and the words "We call on the name of our god, Satan" scrawled in Latin--was discovered Sunday as worshipers of the city's largest Protestant church arrived for morning services.

"It was devastating for all of us to see it initially," said Pastor Philip Wood, a task force member. "By the end of worship service, there was a sense that this is not going to bring us down.

"We understand what God is calling upon us to do and we're going to do it."

A crew of city employees spent hours Monday trying to sandblast the graffiti off church walls.

Last September, Glendale's only synagogue was defaced with six orange swastikas soon after its rabbi, Carole Meyers, helped publicize the task force's plan for fighting bigotry.

"The incidents are far enough apart that I'm not sure there's a connection," said task force member Mary Hamilton. "But I can't imagine anything else either could do to invoke this kind of response."

The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Community Relations was formed last year by Givens in response to a hate crime against an Armenian youth group. The task force is charged with rushing to the aid of hate crime victims at a moment's notice, among other things.

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