When news happens, text LT and your photos and videos to 80360. Or contact us by email or phone.
Priest guards church against ‘racist’ attacks
A PRIEST is set to install high fences around his church in Blackburn in a bid to combat racist attacks.
The move was revealed as a Muslim leader blasted the gang of youths which targeted St Joseph's RC Church, in Audley, Blackburn.
Coun Salim Mulla, secretary of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, said the gang were "disgraceful and disrespectful" and he was so angry that when he found out who was responsible he would personally report them to the police.
The latest incident happened on Sunday at 11pm and although the church's alarm system prevented the youths from gaining access to the church, significant damage was done to the church door.
Father Francis Parkinson, the Roman Catholic priest at St Joseph's, was also targeted in February when he was racially abused by a gang of youths who had been loitering in the church car park.
A 19-year-old later admitted racially aggravated threatening behaviour against the priest and was given a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordered to pay £50 costs.
Father Francis said the church and its car park have been plagued with gangs of juveniles making a nuisance of themselves.
He said he was looking to install high fences around the church and car park to keep youths out and protect the church from vandalism.
He added: "I would simply like to know why these young men feel they have got to do this as I personally don't understand it.
"This is just another example of wanton vandalism that is upsetting community cohesion.
"These youths have shown no respect for the church as a place of worship. How would they feel if a gang of vandals attempted to break into their mosque?
"I was racially abused by youths hanging around the church car park a few months back and now we have had an attempted break-in.
"The bolt on the door has been broken. Repairs cost money. I have spoken to Coun Mulla about this situation and he is most upset that this keeps happening and has said he will do what he can to find those responsible."
Coun Mulla said he couldn't believe the church had been targeted again and called for the Muslim community to condemn the youths' actions.
He said: "The Muslim community works very closely with the Christian community and it is important we understand and respect everybody else's beliefs.
"I expect all youths to be law abiding and not cause harm to people's places of worship. Sadly some youths behave disgracefully and these youths in particular have disgraced their community by what they have done to St Joseph's."
"I want to send a strong message to the community that this sort of racist and anti-social behaviour is not acceptable."
Insp Jenny Coulston, of Blackburn police, said she believed the incident was part of an ongoing problem of juvenile nuisance in the Audley area.