LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A group of South Louisville Buddhists say they are the target of discrimination. The Phuoc Hau Temple has been vandalized twice in the last two weeks, and, according to members, five times in the last five years. While members filed their first report with police on March 20, a longtime member said it wasn't the first time she wanted to call. The temple's monk previously advised against it.
"Just let it go, it'll get to the point where they'll get tired of it," Nina Nguyen said of the monk's for handling those responsible for the vandalism.
When the vandalism did not stop at the 8510 Old Third Street Road location, members contacted us for help. The call came after discovering property damaged on the temple grounds this weekend. We contacted police ourselves, Nguyen's biggest concern is the impact the vandalism is having on members who attend services at the Vietnamese temple and don't speak English.
"People who come here, are elderly people. They don't speak English," Nguyen said. "They come here on the weekend to worship. I feel like they're really taking advantage of language barrier and doing all this."
LMPD spokesperson Dwight Mitchell obtained the weekend police report filed in regards to the vandalism and talked about what police have done to in response to the incident.
"We had sent one of our district resources out to that location to talk with the leadership there," Mitchell said. "Obviously, this was an act that's not going to be tolerated in our community. Everybody has a right to their own religious beliefs."
"When you vandalize a temple like that in the name of Christ, you have not just vandalized them, you have vandalized the name of Christ," said Jerry Cappel, president of Kentuckiana Interfaith Community, who has reached out to the Phuoc Hau Temple members. "There are many groups, both Interfaith and Christian, that would be glad to stand up for these folks."
Mitchell said Metro Police do not have any suspects at this time, but anyone with information is asked to call the LMPD Crime Tip Line at 574-LMPD (5673). All calls to the Crime Tip Line are anonymous.
According to Mitchell, the crime is a misdemeanor - 3rd degree criminal mischief for destruction of the property. However, Mitchell adds the crime borders on a hate crime and it would ultimately be up to a judge to make that call if someone is arrested.