“Hate knows no boundaries – and today it found its way into our community.”
This post on the Facebook page of St. Stephen’s Armenian Church of Watertown (Massachusetts) referred to the message taped to a sign outside the church, located at the corner of Artsakh Street and Elton Avenue, in the eastern part of the town, and found in the morning of Monday, September 25. The message read: “Artsakh is dead. Karabakh is Azerbaijan!” As Archpriest Fr. Antranig Baljian, Pastor, declared to Axios, “Artsakh has been defeated. That may make some people happy, fine, but when you translate that into this kind of action, then you make people afraid. That’s why it becomes a hate crime.”
The church’s message ended: “Hate towards Armenians is everywhere. Stay vigilant. We cannot let this deter our fight for survival and justice. As Der Hayr said in his sermon, our greatest weapon is prayer. 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.”
The Watertown Police Department is treating this as a hate crime and investigating the matter. The police added patrols in the neighborhood of the church and the St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School, especially during school hours. A cadre of volunteers will be surrounding the school during drop-off and pick-up hours.