Southwest Portland church, business hit by vandals in ‘senseless act’

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Leftover spray paint and broken windows serve as a frustrating reminder for some locals hit by vandals over the weekend. A custom mural on a Sellwood-Moreland business and a local church were among those hit.

One of the hard-hit places was St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Southwest Portland, as many came to worship Sunday, finding dozens of tags spray-painted throughout the sanctuary, halls and even nursery rooms. The church pews were hit while the walls were covered with explosives. Church members still want to know why they were targeted and who is responsible.

“It was just an hour to find another place, another place, another place,” Sarah Sanderson-Doughty said. “Clearly they went through as much of the building as they could get in.”

  • Southwest Portland church, business hit by vandals in 'senseless act'
  • Southwest Portland church, business hit by vandals in 'senseless act'
  • Southwest Portland church, business hit by vandals in 'senseless act'
  • Southwest Portland church, business hit by vandals in 'senseless act'

While they don’t know who is responsible, the vandals also broke several windows, including a stained glass window in the chapel, along with smashing mugs and apples in common areas.

“One of our church leaders spent time on Sunday morning walking around, taking pictures of every bit of damage he could find, and he took 101 pictures,” Sanderson-Doughty said.

Calling the weekend break-in a “senseless act of destruction,” church members have begun the cleanup process but say they are still shaken.

“It’s very shaky. This is a safe space,” Sanderson-Doughty said, adding that the church often serves those in need far beyond their congregation.

Across the Willamette in the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood, a custom mural created above the CA Butt Building depicts a story of the creation of Willamette Falls and the region’s indigenous roots — but this weekend, it was also hit by vandals.

Southwest Portland church, business hit by vandals in 'senseless act'
A custom mural on the CA Butt building in the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood was vandalized. August 30, 2022 (KOIN).

“The next morning, I saw that they had been there, they knew the cameras were there and they were obviously avoiding them,” said John Keane, who co-owns the building and commissioned the mural.

Instead, the building’s owners spent most of the weekend cleaning up what they could. They installed security cameras a few months ago because of the constant graffiti on the roof and say it’s rampant in the community with nearby businesses and schools also being hit frequently.

“It’s super frustrating and it’s really grown a lot over the last few years,” said Keane, who grew up in the neighborhood.

Last year, Portland Police received more than 12,000 reports of vandalism, including more than a thousand last month. Earlier this year, Mayor Wheeler announced plans in the budget to clean up graffiti, but the city is requiring that any new graffiti finds be reported immediately.

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