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Laurel Church Shocked By Hate Crime | News

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Laurel Church Shocked By Hate Crime

LAUREL, Md. (WUSA) -- A black rag doll covered in racial slurs, obscenities and swastikas found outside the City of Zion Church in Laurel on Sunday has prompted a hate crime investigation by Laurel police. 

"It's very disturbing, especially to us, because of lynchings and things of that nature," said Pastor Gregory Strong, who along with a church worker, discovered the rag doll hanging from a cherry tree outside the church.

"There was a lot of foul language on the doll and what was even more disturbing , there were a lot of references to Obama," added Strong, who believes the doll was an attempt to "intimidate" black voters on the eve of the midterm elections.

"It was scary, nothing to really worry about, but it's a scare tactic straight  from the pit of hell," said Sheila Thompson, a church minister. 

Police say the child sized style doll was hung sometime between Saturday evening and Sunday morning. "We've taken the doll and rope as evidence and are trying to lift fingerprints and determine where the rope was purchased," said police spokesperson Jim Collins.

Laurel Mayor Craig Moe and the church's pastor, say they're "outraged" by the incident. Moe stressed that "there is no place in Laurel for actions such as this." Laurel police have stepped up patrols around the church and surrounding neighborhood  as a precaution, and the FBI has been notified.

Many in the 250 member City of Zion congregation are shocked but not intimidated by the hate-act saying they will vote in Tuesday''s election.

"We're not getting on the back of the bus. We're not going back to Africa. We're going to fight this," said Strong who served for seven years in the Marine Corps before becoming a pastor.

Anyone with information on this incident is encouraged to contact the Laurel Police Department Criminal Investigations Division at 301-498-0092.