Sign posted outside an Armenian church in Watertown is being investigated as a hate crime

WATERTOWN, Mass. — Watertown’s Saint Stephens Armenian Apostolic Church serves one of the largest Armenian communities on the East Coast.

But it was here Monday morning, that someone taped a handmade message to the Church’s community sign, right around the corner from the Church’s preschool and elementary school.

Police confirmed they are investigating the handwritten sign as a hate crime.

“Damage to buildings, or grounds is one thing. But, the safety of our children is paramount. And I know our parents are very fearful for their children and concerned,” Pastor Antramig Baljian said.

The words, “ARTSAKH IS DEAD” were written on a white paper, and taped underneath the billboard for Saint Stephens Armenian Apostolic Church on Elton Avenue in Watertown.

Underneath those words, another phrase is faintly scribed: “KARABAKH IS Azerbaijan!”

The message refers to recent ongoing political unrest over disputed lands in Azerbaijan where thousands of Armenians are being forced to leave their homes in Artsakh.

“This is a humanitarian crisis, this is ethnic cleansing and a catastrophe that is happening in the 21st century, in broad daylight with little intervention with little action by anyone in the world,” Ara Nazarian, a Church member told Boston 25.

In a Facebook post on Monday, the church called the troubling sign “a hate crime.”

“Hate knows no boundaries – and today it found its way into our community,” the church said in its post. “Hate towards Armenians is everywhere. Stay vigilant. We cannot let this deter our fight for survival and justice. We pray for our displaced sisters and brothers of Artsakh. We pray for the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh, and we pray for all Armenians around the world.”

Watertown police are adding police patrols to the area around St. Stephens and investigators are trying to figure out who posted this note here and why.

Watertown Police are urging with anyone with information to contact them.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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