Man wanted for breaking into pro-immigrant Pilsen church, making Nazi salute to employees
The FBI says he kicked through the glass door of Lincoln United Methodist Church on 22nd Place.
The FBI is asking for the public’s help to identify a man who broke in to a Pilsen church in 2019 and made racist statements and gestures.
When told the church was closed, a man in his 30s kicked through two locked glass doors of Lincoln United Methodist Church, 2009 W. 22nd Pl., the FBI said.
He then 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 Oct. 15, 2019, incident was logged by Chicago police as a religious-motivated hate crime, according to CPD hate crime records.
At the time, Rev. Emma Lozano — an advocate for immigrants — said she believed the man attacked the church because of a Sept. 23 confrontation between church members and conservative activists that 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, a pastor of the church, 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 and took photos of him.
“He said, ‘You can’t touch me; The police work for me,’” Garcia said.
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, Chicago police recorded six other hate crimes at churches and nine at synagogues.
The FBI’s yearly report in 2019 on national 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 Palos Hills.
The FBI asked anyone with information in the Pilsen incident to call (312) 421-6700 or go online to tips.fbi.gov.