published Saturday, December 14th, 2013

Vandals target Salvation Army thrift store in Dalton, Ga.

GET INVOLVED

Anyone with information about the vandalism at the Dalton Salvation Army thrift store may call Dalton Police Department Detective Sam Eaton at 706-278-9085, ext. 158.

When vandals left graffiti and broken windows late Thursday night at a Salvation Army Thrift Store in Dalton, Ga., Art Fultz's first thought was it might have been inspired by a national boycott that views the Christian charity as anti-gay.

"My thought process went there immediately," said Fultz, the major in charge of the Dalton Salvation Army Corps.

The words "fear none love all," "we will break every ---- wall that divides us," and the symbol of heart = heart were some of the graffiti left in red spray paint on the thrift store at 1102 N. Thornton Ave.

However, Fultz isn't sure, because the vandal or vandals also claimed to be from the group "anonymous" -- though it was misspelled -- and they spray-painted the anarchy symbol, a capital "A" inside a circle, as they smashed three windows and left graffiti on a delivery truck about 11:30 p.m. That's when the breaking windows triggered the store's alarm system.

"People tell me that it is the symbol used by the anarchy culture," Fultz said. "I know less than nothing about the anarchy culture. I don't know how to interpret that."

Gay rights activists have criticized the Salvation Army for its stance on homosexuality. According to a 2011 New York Times article, the Christian charity's position statement said that scripture forbids same-sex intimacy, and it called on Christians with same-sex orientation to "embrace celibacy as a way of life."

Fultz said the Salvation Army serves the needy without discrimination.

"In no case are gays excluded," he said.

Dalton Police Department spokesman Bruce Frazier said the vandalism is under investigation.

"I don't know why these people did it, to be honest with you," Frazier said. "I can't speculate."

Workers were able to clean the graffiti off the thrift store windows Friday morning, business administrator Pat Thompson said. They got most of the graffiti off the truck, she said. Insurance will help cover the cost to replace the three broken windows, she said.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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