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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 May 2007, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
Anger as squatters wreck church
Ebenezer Baptist Church
Ebenezer Baptist Church is empty pending redevelopment
A Baptist congregation is angry after squatters wrecked an empty church building and covered the walls with anti-Christian graffiti.

Police who raided Ebenezer Baptist Chapel in Richmond Parade, Brighton, last week found 18 people inside and evidence of drinking and drug taking.

The building, which is due to be redeveloped, was boarded up but the squatters returned within days.

"I am angry but in a sense I pity them," said pastor Tony Bickley.

'Almost tribal'

"When you see what is inside, I just wonder what is going on in the minds of people to do this to a building they are living in - it is almost tribal," he said.

The church was flooded and its organ vandalised. The squatters had left empty beer cans and drugs paraphernalia throughout the premises and bedding in the baptism pit.

"When we came in last Thursday morning there were 18 people here - primarily street drinkers," said Insp Laurence Taylor of Sussex Police.

"We came in because of the impact on the community in the area.

"We had a lot of reports of drug dealing coming from the premises and anti-social behaviour."

A planning application is before Brighton and Hove City Council to build a new church, community hall and flats on the site.

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