Two men have been charged with committing a civil rights violation through damaging and defacing the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.
Reports stated the indictments were returned by a federal grand jury in Nashville, charging 19-year-old Charles Dwight Stout, III, and 18-year-old Thomas Avery Gibbs, both of Murfreesboro, with the crime.
According to the indictment, Stout and Gibbs allegedly vandalized the Islamic Center by placing bacon around an entrance. Bacon, being a pork product, is forbidden by Islam.
Authorities also alleged that Stout and Gibbs spray-painted profane references to Allah on several sections of the exterior of the Islamic Center.
Officials said Stout and Gibbs tried to conceal their identity with Stout reportedly wearing a World War II-era Nazi gas mask.
Investigators added Stout also allegedly destroyed the clothes he wore and deleted the photos he had taken with his cell phone.
He was previously indicted on August 30 for obstructing a federal investigation by deleting those photos.
The vandalism was found by members of the Islamic Center when they went to Morning Prayer on July 10.
Stout and Gibbs have been charged with conspiring to commit a civil rights violation and committing a civil rights violation. They could face up to a year in prison.
The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro released the following statement Friday afternoon:
"The Murfreesboro community, and the ICM community in particular, have received the great news of the indictment of the two men who are being charged with 'conspiring to commit a civil rights violation and committing a civil rights violation through damaging and defacing the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro,' which occurred on July 10th .
We would like to take this opportunity again to thank our law enforcement personnel for their great and diligent work. We also want to thank all of those who helped in identifying the men and leading to this indictment. In particular, we would like to show our great appreciation and thanks to Mr. Donald Cochran, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, and Mr. Michael T. Gavin, Special Agent in Charge of the Memphis Field Office of the FBI as well as everyone at the FBI and the US Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee office and the Department of Justice. Our special thanks and appreciations also go to the Rutherford County Sherriff’s Office detectives and staff and the Murfreesboro Police Department for their great work. We always believe that justice and truth prevail in our beautiful country and we put our trust in God first and in our law enforcement agencies second. Racism and hate have no place and cannot be tolerated in our beautiful city, great county, state, and country. This great news comes on a Friday, a special day that is celebrated by Muslims all around the globe.
Finally, we would like to thank all of those wonderful individuals and organizations who stood with us during our difficult time and those who came to our center to show their support. Also special thanks to those who brought flowers, cleaning supplies, donations, cards, support signs; as well as called, left their support notes, and e-mailed and everyone who stands against hate, racism, and xenophobia."