Possible Hate Crime At Charlotte Buddhist Temple

WSOC Charlotte, December 23, 2008

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (USA) -- Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are investigating a break-in at Laotian temple in West Charlotte as a possible hate crime.

Investigators told Eyewitness News thieves broke in on Sunday and stole several small Buddha statues, threw others on the floor and then overturned a large one using an extension cord, evidence that could indicate a hate crime.

"It's very upsetting. It's invasive and I just can't put words into it," said Cpie Inthanon, who's on the board of directors at the Laotian Culture Center of North Carolina.

Inthanon said said their entire community feels violated. "It is very sacred place to us," he said. "We come here to worship. A place for us to get together, family and friends. We love this place."

The center is not only a house of worship, it also helps immigrant Laotians adjust to life in the United States but no one's used it since this spring. Inthanon wonders why anyone would want to disrespect their culture.

"It just shows disrespect and if you have any sense of decency, how would you feel if someone came to your church and saw someone vandalized your church," he questioned.

Police said this is not the first time the center been targeted. Anyone with any information should contact Crimestoppers at 704-334-1600.