By Joe Beck
Front Royal police are investigating vandalism to two storefronts that occurred Sunday night or Monday morning, a crime that operators of both stores blamed on a bitter dispute over the town's fortunetelling ordinance.
One or more persons spray painted the windows at the Faithful and True Catholic Books & Gifts at 201 E. Main St. and Brooklyn's Marketplace, a program of the nonprofit Center for Workforce Development, at 113 E. Main St. The messages in black and pink paint included "Jesus loves you," "all you need is love" and a peace sign.
Sandra O'Gorman, the owner of Faithful and True, said she believes the vandalism stemmed from her opposition to a town ordinance that bans fortunetelling, an issue the town council was scheduled to take up at its Monday meeting.
"At least it wasn't foul language," O'Gorman said of the vandalism.
Arlene Ballou, executive director and founder of the Center for Workforce Development, said her organization has been targeted by "extreme Catholics" after she allowed a tarot card reader to operate in the building for a few hours before the woman was asked not to return.
"This conversation has gotten way out of hand and away from the issue at hand," Ballou said.
Sgt. Crystal Cline of the Front Royal police said the vandalism was committed between 10 p.m. Sunday and 2 a.m. Monday. She said police were working on some leads.
"It's unfortunate that individuals would make these businesses a victim of vandalism due to a conflict over religious belief," Cline said. "Everybody has their own opinion. You can protest but you should do it in peace."
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org