MILWAUKEE — A startling beginning to Holy Week for a Milwaukee church: police are looking for the people responsible for tagging St. Francis of Assisi Church with satanic graffiti.
Father Michael Bertram said he didn’t have much time to wallow after seeing the graffiti early on Palm Sunday.
“The building is being constructed as a new parish center,” Bertram said.
“Demonz control me... 666”#HolyWeek for one Milwaukee church is off to a startling start after it was tagged on #PalmSunday. TONIGHT AT 10, I speak with the pastor about tagging the rare “cream city” bricks and why cameras on-site weren’t able to capture the incident. pic.twitter.com/Yd4ldtbSqo— Tony Atkins (@TonyAtkinsTV) March 29, 2021
Father Mike said he is keeping his head up.
He said this Palm Sunday was tough as his parishioners filed into mass, many of them seeing the graffiti on the north side of their home of worship.
“It understandably left some people really disheartened yesterday to see this,” Bertram said.
“Demons Control Me,” the number “666” and CYKO, reading psycho, were tagged beside the $5 million Parish center which is under construction on the church’s campus. The tag was also done on rare cream city bricks repurposed for the new space.
“It’s disappointing because the brick has been painstakingly removed from the old monastery,” Bertram said.
Bertram said he filed a police report for the tagging, which happened around 4 a.m. Sunday. He says at least two people were gone within 25 minutes after the graffiti was painted.
Cameras on the construction site weren’t able to catch the culprits because the cameras were covered in dust from the work.
“It’s probably one of the tougher jobs you can handle, especially on a very old building,” said Travis Mandli of Midwest Maintenance.
Mandli said power washing brick is one of his more difficult jobs. Graffiti removal has become more prevalent over the past year.
“We removed something like that quite recently actually at the Masonic Center, probably a few weeks ago,” Mandli said.
Father Mike said he's still preaching the message of moving forward in love.
“This is just a physical reminder of how our physical structures can be damaged and hurt. Nothing like what Jesus went through, but in some ways, there’s a strong comparison that gives meaning to what we go through during this holy week,” he said.
Bertram said it will cost thousands of dollars to clean the graffiti. If you have any information about the mysterious tagger, you’re asked to call Milwaukee police.