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Arrest made after African-American churches found vandalized in New Jersey: police

MORRIS COUNTY, N.J. — Police arrested a 45-year-old man in connection with reports of vandalism on churches in New Jersey that were treating them as possible bias crimes.

Church officials notified prosecutors and police in Morristown and Morris Township Saturday that they had fallen victim to vandalism overnight, officials said.

Zuri Towns was arrested, police said Sunday. He had previously attended one of the churches as a minor. He was charged with criminal mischief.

The churches, which are prominently African-American: Church of God in Christ for All Saints, Bethel A.M.E. Church, Calvary Baptist Church, Union Baptist Church, and Morristown Church of Christ, suffered property damage including a broken stained glass window, and broken or damaged exterior signs.

New Jersey Governor-elect Phil Murphy tweeted his disgust toward the vandalism,

“Disgusted by reported vandalism of African-American churches across Morristown. These cowardly acts will not shake our faith. They will renew our determination to come together as one NJ.”

In response to the incidents, police patrols will be increased at local area churches.

Investigation remains ongoing.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Bias Crimes Unit at 973-285-6200, the Morristown Police at 973-538-2200, or Morris Township Police at 973-539-0777.  Tips can also be provided anonymously through Crime Stoppers by calling 973-COP-CALL (973-267-2255), or going online to http://www.morriscrimestoppers.org.