SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Leaders with Pitts Chapel United Methodist Church said in a Facebook post Thursday that someone spray-painted a black swastika on the south side of the building earlier in May.

Ozarksfirst confirmed with Springfield Police Thursday that officers are investigating this as a hate crime. The post stated the vandalism happened on either May 18 or May 19, 2022.

Pitts Chapel leadership said the symbol has been removed from the building, and they plan to share more information along with the NAACP Friday morning.

“In light of the recent hate crime in Buffalo, New York, that left 10 Black people dead and three others wounded, Pitts Chapel leaders, in conversation with the Springfield chapter of the NAACP, decided to host a press conference to make the Springfield public aware of the act of hate in their own backyard,” stated the Facebook post about the incident.

Friday morning, Springfield Mayor Ken McClure released a statement denouncing the vandalism.

Pitts Chapel was started in 1847 and is the oldest historically African American church that has continued to worship in Springfield.