UPDATED: San Francisco Church Building Fire was Arson

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ANCA-San Francisco Bay Area Chapter Condemns “Emerging Pattern of Hate Crimes”

The Board of Trustees of the St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church of San Francisco announced on Thursday that around 4 a.m. the building adjacent to the church was set ablaze by arsonists.

“The building housed Vasbouragan Hall, as well as offices for St. Gregory Armenian Church and various organizations. The San Francisco Fire Department responded immediately, however, the building has suffered a great loss,” said the church board of trustees.

“The Church Board of Trustees and community leaders are on site assessing the damage and working closely with San Francisco Fire and Police Departments in their investigation. We will provide more updates to the community as they become available,” added the board.

The St. Gregory Church (left) and the community center (Alex Bastian-Twitter)

The St. Gregory Church (left) and the community center (Alex Bastian-Twitter)

Armenian community officials said that the fire was started in three different areas on the building–the church Sunday School classrooms, the church office and the Hamazkayin Library.

This follows an attack on the Krouzian-Zekarian Vasbouragan Armenian School and the adjacent community center in July. The exterior of the building was spray painted with anti-Armenian, pro-Azerbaijani graffiti.

“The ANCA San Francisco-Bay Area condemns the attack on the St. Gregory Armenian Church Center and is deeply concerned about an emerging pattern of hate crimes targeting the Bay Armenian Armenian American community as an extension of Turkish and Azerbaijani Government aggression against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh,” said the Armenian National Committee of America San Francisco Bay Area chapter in a statement on Thursday.

“As descendants of victims and survivors of the Armenian Genocide, the Bay Area Armenian American community understands the very real consequences of allowing intolerance and hate to remain unchecked. We will be working with the St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church Board of Trustees and the San Francisco Fire and Police Departments to help better ensure the safety and security of the local Armenian American community and its institutions, while pressing for a thorough investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators of both the Krouzian-Zekarian Armenian School and St. Gregory Armenian Church Center attacks,” added the ANCA-SFBA.

“The arson attack comes less than two months after pro-Azerbaijan vandals defaced San Francisco’s Krouzian Zekarian Armenian School – an incident that is being investigated as a hate-crime by the San Francisco Police Department and has been widely condemned by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) and a broad range of California Congressional leaders, State Senator Scott Weiner, as well as San Francisco Mayor London Breed, San Francisco Board of Supervisors Chair Norman Yee, and District Attorney Chesa Boudin,” said the local ANCA chapter.

 

“There is no room for this cowardly, hateful, criminal act in San Francisco,” said San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin in a Twitter post. “We stand with the Armenian community against hate.”

The center houses the offices of the ARF “Kristapor” chapter, the ANCA-San Francisco, the local Homenetmen, ARS, Hamazkayin and AYF chapters.

The church has set up a GoFundMe page to assist in the recovery efforts.

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4 Comments

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