Church’s “Black Lives Matter” Banner Gone — Again

The first time Westport’s Unitarian Church hung a “Black Lives Matter” banner on Lyons Plains Road, it lasted 10 months.

After it disappeared in August, church officials ordered a new one.

It was dedicated last Sunday — next to a “Hate Has No Home Here” sign.

This time, it took just 5 days before it too was gone.

It will be be back.

Rev. Dr. John Morehouse posted this message on Facebook:

“Every time the banner is vandalized it fortifies our resolve to replace it and underscores the very need for its existence.”

67 responses to “Church’s “Black Lives Matter” Banner Gone — Again

  1. I am astonished–and sad. Are the thieves saying Black lives don’t matter? Why are they so threatened by a sign affirming the humanity of African Americans?

  2. We are Westport, for goodness’ sake. Please post instructions for contributing to the church and designating the money to be used for humanitarian purposes, including this one.

    • That would be so nice, Richard. Contributions may be sent to The Unitarian Church in Westport, 10 Lyons Plains Road, Westport 06880 c/o David Vita, Director of Social Justice. You can write “Social Justice” on the memo line. Thank you.

  3. Chip Stephens. Staples 73

    Really ? I live 2 doors down from here. I saw the new banner up the week before the rededication and saw it taken down for the dedication. I never saw it up again after the dedication event which I assumed took place in the church There seems something is amiss here.

    • Janette Kinnally

      What is your point? Do you think the church misplaced it? No, I don’t think so. A lot of people are angry. And we have a very divisive country right now. It is terrible that people show their anger through vandalism though. Hope they catch the people who stole it.
      So many more productive ways to show how you feel – for example, through peaceful activism.

  4. I suggest a security camera might help. And if it doesn’t prevent the theft, at least we’d get a good look at the racist/thief living among us. Heck, might want to put banner/camera combos around town in a few spots. Like using peanut butter to catch a raccoon, we could bag some racists! I applaud the church’s commitment to supporting this message despite the cost.

  5. Strap a couple game cameras to the nearby trees. It will take photos of whoever is doing it, whenever they’re doing it. Then turn it over to the police.

  6. Must be the same gang of rabid racists who tee-peed someone’s house a while back……………never heard anything further on that incident, have you?
    Before you become overcome with self righteous liberal angst, it is worth noting that the important sign still remains……the little one in red that states that ALL lives matter.
    BJK S ’55

  7. This could be an “anti black” thing on the other hand it could be kids who want the banner for their dorm room. I keep reading posts by people on this blog that seem to want to think the worst and frequently jump to conclusions. As Rich points out above, a wireless camera is very inexpensive…

    • You’re lucky Jeff speaks up for the likely impetus of the flag stealing, I’m watching the interview of Otto Warmhier parents on Fox now, their UVA college sons ‘steal the flag’ prank misunderstood (putting it mildly, But there really are no words for how horrific North Koreas interpretation of that prank were) as stealing….I’m guessing more people in Westport agree with Jeff than think it was a malicious theft.

      Susan Farley

  8. For the answer to the question on Thomas Jefferson, please google the missing paragraph to the Declaration of Independence…written by Jefferson, but not included in the final version in order to assure passage/signing of the document by all representatives of the colonies.

    • Mary, thanks for this note. I never knew this piece of history and just read the paragraph (and cross-checked to make sure it was real). It puts a whole new light on Jefferson, and makes it even more puzzling why he never emancipated his own slaves.

  9. Enough with bashing flawed politicians from our past; we have to address current problems and attitudes that effect our present and our future and our children’s future.

    • My point in bringing up Jefferson is this: he proclaimed the equality of all people but his actions show he didn’t believe in it. He didn’t even have the decency to free his slaves upon his death. (Washington freed his). Given that Jefferson’s statement and behavior , which are in contradiction, has lasted in parts of our society for centuries, it is necessary to remind the American people that Black lives do indeed matter !
      ADW Staples 1956

  10. Maybe change the banner message to “We all matter.”

    • Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say “I should get my fair share.” And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, “everyone should get their fair share.” Now, that’s a wonderful sentiment — indeed, everyone should, and that was kinda your point in the first place: that you should be a part of everyone, and you should get your fair share also. However, dad’s smart-ass comment just dismissed you and didn’t solve the problem that you still haven’t gotten any!

      The problem is that the statement “I should get my fair share” had an implicit “too” at the end: “I should get my fair share, too, just like everyone else.” But your dad’s response treated your statement as though you meant “only I should get my fair share”, which clearly was not your intention. As a result, his statement that “everyone should get their fair share,” while true, only served to ignore the problem you were trying to point out.

      That’s the situation of the “black lives matter” movement. Culture, laws, the arts, religion, and everyone else repeatedly suggest that all lives should matter. Clearly, that message already abounds in our society.

      The problem is that, in practice, the world doesn’t work that way. You see the film Nightcrawler? You know the part where Renee Russo tells Jake Gyllenhal that she doesn’t want footage of a black or latino person dying, she wants news stories about affluent white people being killed? That’s not made up out of whole cloth — there is a news bias toward stories that the majority of the audience (who are white) can identify with. So when a young black man gets killed (prior to the recent police shootings), it’s generally not considered “news”, while a middle-aged white woman being killed is treated as news. And to a large degree, that is accurate — young black men are killed in significantly disproportionate numbers, which is why we don’t treat it as anything new. But the result is that, societally, we don’t pay as much attention to certain people’s deaths as we do to others. So, currently, we don’t treat all lives as though they matter equally.

      Just like asking dad for your fair share, the phrase “black lives matter” also has an implicit “too” at the end: it’s saying that black lives should also matter. But responding to this by saying “all lives matter” is willfully going back to ignoring the problem. It’s a way of dismissing the statement by falsely suggesting that it means “only black lives matter,” when that is obviously not the case. And so saying “all lives matter” as a direct response to “black lives matter” is essentially saying that we should just go back to ignoring the problem.

  11. Today is as good a day as any to peruse the myriad freedom of speech quotations, all the same but different.

  12. Again? Unbelievable! I LOVE the resolve and fortitude of the Unitarian Church of Westport! I will look forward to seeing other Unitarian members next week at next Sundays 9am sermon. A safe place that has LOVE as its backbone 💖 AMEN to that.

  13. Someone help the church set up a WIFI video camera. Let’s catch the jerks.

  14. Werner Liepolt

    These comments seem to diminish what is heppening. Shouldn’t this be investigated as a hate crime?

  15. We all matter says it all…….no banner needed… has caused more headache than necessary……if you are going to do it for Black LIves do it for all races or not at all.

  16. Don L. Bergmann

    Just thought I would add that I believe the “Black Lives Matter” phrase is an excellent. Don Bergmann

  17. Just thought I would add that the implication that a Westport student would steal this banner for a college room is repugnant and demeaning of Westport students. In fact the cynicism inherent in the remark is appalling. The theft of this banner seems to be the work of cretinous white supremacists who see this act and identical acts in our and neighboring states as a way to set us against ourselves and attack the the goodwill that we share with our fellow citizens.

    • Oh and by the way, the anguish that the church members and their pastor feel at the double assault is something that all Westporters should openly acknowledge and address. Where is the empathy in your response?

    • Again, thinking the worst I see. My point was maybe a kid actually supports BLM and wanted to show his support by hanging the sign in his dorm or fraternity house. I’m sure you probably think these are the same hate-crime-vandals that put toilet paper on that guys house, right? Your anxiety is palpable and unfortunately your conclusion-jumping paranoia contaminates minds.

    • In September 2016, a young man from Westport was caught after stealing a Black Lives Matter flag at the University of Vermont. The flag was found in his dorm room. He told the UVM administration that he did it as a prank because he was drunk. He apologized to the UVM community.

    • The sign was found, torn in half, by the side of the road, not in some dorm room..

  18. I wonder if the people in Minnesota marching behind a Black Lives Matter Banner while chanting “Pigs In A Blanket, Fry Them Like Bacon!” would ask their local police for help if their banner was stolen?

    • Elizabeth Thibault

      Is this any better than the police chanting “Who’s streets? Our streets!” Repugnant behavior by any group is still repugnant, regardless of the intent.

  19. Come on, people!!! I must be naive to believe that no one in our community would do such a thing.

  20. Had the ORIGINALl Black Lives Matter movement been a movement proselytizing for ALL Lives Matter, Trump would not be President, bigotry would not have its current, institutionalized foothold and prerogative and a sign in front of a church would still be inviolate.

  21. People, who are not racists by any means, have lots of issues with the tactics of the BLM movement.

    And until the facts are known, what happened to the banner is just a guess, by everyone without direct knowledge. So before casting lots of stones and epithets around…

  22. Lisa Marie Alter

    Agree with Werner – on all his points.

    P.S. Except name calling – altho God knows, I’d love to give into the temptation many times over. (Altho calling white supremacists “cretinous” is fine with me – calling them ANYTHING derogatory is OK with me.)

    PPS. Maybe it is time for a security camera.

    PPPS. Of course “all lives matter” 🙄 – but the opinion of those possessing “White-Male-Christian-privilege” is diminished by their “suffering”… IOW, if one is white, and/or male, and/or Christian, they can’t understand marginalization the way others without those characteristics do.

  23. The Unitarian Church of Westport has entered the political fray by hanging a banner representing the Black Lives Matter movement. “The belief” and “the movement” are not one and the same.

    Patrisse Cullors, a Black Lives Matter founder, was recently asked if BLM leaders would sit down with President Trump to openly discuss the issues. Her response: “We wouldn’t as a movement take a seat at the table with Trump, because we wouldn’t have done that with Hitler. Trump is literally the epitome of evil, all the evils of this country — be it racism, capitalism, sexism, homophobia. He has set out some of the most dangerous policies, not just that impacts this country but impacts the globe. And so for us, the answer is not to sit with him but to resist him and to resist every single policy that he’s implemented that impacts our communities.”

    When recently asked about BLM’s “target,” Patrisse Cullors stated:

    “And I want to be frank. I think our target has been law enforcement, and that has been important because black folks not only are killed with impunity, but also black folks are some of the most marginalized and vulnerable communities in this country.”

    Instead of hanging the same banner, I hope Westport’s Unitarian church considers how an Annapolis, Maryland Episcopal church reacted after speaking with a woman who had defaced its Black Lives Matter banner:

    The Annapolis church’s new banner reflects: “Dismantle Racism.” It has been untouched for more than a year. What a difference a few words make.

  24. Black Lives Matter does not mean Only Black Lives Matter. It means Black Lives Matter, Too. Columnist Michael Harriot writes on The Root, “Many of the people you hear use the phrase [Black Lives Matter] don’t belong to an organization or go to meetings. They are simply affirming the importance and value of black lives in a world that seems to systematically extinguish or ignore them.”

    See also “Why ‘All Lives Matter’ is Such a Perilous Phrase,” by Daniel Victor, New York Times.

  25. I thought that in the interests of transparency, civility and honesty, we all use our own names, Jet.

    • Mary, please cut me a break. It’s hard moderating comments all day. I remove comments without full real names as soon as I can. I can’t do it instantly. I allow people’s comments to appear as soon as they post, because I don’t want to hinder debate. But I can’t do this 24/7.

      • Dan, no reflection or criticism directed at you, but at the poster who can clearly see first and last names as he goes thru the comments.

        • Thanks, Mary. You would not believe the number of posters who do not use first and last names. I spent probably an hour a day dealing with this.

          • I am new to the blog and have only posted once previously and used my first and last name. However, this time when signing in I used an old WordPress account that I did not realize was attached to my previous travel blog and not my sir name. I should have looked more closely…forgive the error.

        • Again, new to the blog, signed in with old WordPress account and did not realize WP provided an old blog name in lieu of my sir name. It’s not productive to assume what a person does or does not “see”. What is clear is that I simply overlooked how my name appeared there was no intentional act to remain anonymous or disregard the rules.

  26. The person that stole the banner needs to be caught and prosecuted for both trespassing and theft. Racism is a terrible thing.
    I will look forward to seeing all of the Westport ricism activists downtown this coming weekend, protesting the black man that shot up the predominantly white church in Tenn.

  27. Stephen Axthelm

    So this is why we engage our first amendment rights. To provoke dialogue even though we may not like it or agree with it. This is what will keep us free. As a member of UU Westport and a former board member, I could not be more proud of my church and the great leadership of our Social Justice Director David Vita, and our Senior Minister John Morehouse. We will hang the banner again and again and again….

  28. Ok. I catch your drift. Change the banner to “you matter.”