The FBI is asking for the public’s help to identify a man who allegedly broke into a Pilsen church in 2019 and made racist statements before giving the Nazi salute to employees.
When told the church was closed, a man in his 30s kicked through a locked glass door of Lincoln United Methodist Church, 2009 W. 22nd Pl., the FBI said.
He then allegedly made racist comments and gave a Nazi salute to employees. The man was accompanied by a medium-sized white dog with a curled tail.
The incident, which happened about 1:30 p.m. Oct. 15, 2019, was logged by Chicago police as a religious-motivated hate crime, according to a review CPD hate crime records.
At the time, Rev. Emma Lozano said she believed the man attacked the church because of a confrontation that occurred outside the church on Sept. 23 between members and conservative activists, which garnered attention online.
“They have said I am organizing the invasion, how I hate America, how I’m not a real American or a real pastor and that I’m bringing in people that are murderers or [part of] cartels,” Lozano said then. “Those are things that put targets on our backs.”
Cecilia Garcia, a student pastor, said after the incident she followed the the man to an alley after he kicked the doors.
“He said you can’t touch me, the police work for me,” Garcia said.
She said she was able to take photos of the man during the confrontation before he left the area.
In 2016, the church was the target of at least three racist acts of vandalism. Swastikas, along with the phrases “Rape N Kill Mexico,” “KKK” and “Trump Rules,” were drawn and written on the church’s doors and windows. A 60-year-old man was charged days later.
In 2019, the CPD recorded six other hate crimes at churches and nine at synagogues.
The FBI’s yearly report in 2019 on hate crime showed that reports of vandalism were down, but that violent hate crimes had risen. The trend happened despite a national decline in crime generally.
In April 2020, a man was charged with a hate crime after slashing tires in the parking lot of Sacred Heart Church in suburban Palos Hills.
The FBI asked anyone with information in the Pilsen incident to call the FBI’s Chicago office at 312-421-6700 or visit tips.fbi.gov.