Church’s “Black Lives Matter” Sign Vandalized

In 2016, the Unitarian Church in Westport hung a “Black Lives Matter” banner at its Lyons Plains Road entrance.

A few months later — just days after neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups marched in Charlottesville — the banner was ripped from its post.

(Photo/David Vita)

Church officials replaced it — and added a “Hate Has No Home Here” sign next to it.

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

Another replacement was ordered.

Senior minister Rev. Dr. John Morehouse said, “Every time the banner is vandalized it fortifies our resolve to replace it and underscores the very need for its existence.”

Last week, the Unitarian Church sign was vandalized again. Written under the phrase “Black Lives Matter” was scrawled: “Is A Racist, Terrorist Organization.”

Someone then covered the graffiti with black tape, in an attempt to blot it out.

Each time haters struck, the church — well known for known for its commitment to diversity, inclusion, openness and social justice — contributes $100 to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Each time too, community reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. Strangers have sent words of support, and offered to help pay for a new banner.

“Black Lives Matter is a movement dedicated to the proposition that black lives should matter as much as white lives do today,” Rev. Morehouse says.

“But the fact is that currently, white lives matter more by almost every measure.  Our Unitarian Universalist faith community has been, and continues to be, dedicated to defeating racism. The fact of the matter is that Black Lives Matter is avowedly anti-racist in its call for black and brown lives to matter as much as white lives.”

Once again, the church will repair the sign.

Once again, representatives say, “it will remain as a testament to our community’s aspiration.”

Westport’s Unitarian Church.

34 responses to “Church’s “Black Lives Matter” Sign Vandalized

  1. Jack Backiel

    How about a hidden camera that transmits video to a hard drive. In Florida, cameras are all over the property. You can even put a sign next to your Black Lives Matter banner that says, “This property has video surveillance.” By the time he reads the sign, his picture is on the hard drive.

  2. Michael Alpert

    Agree with Jack–video surveillance would seem logical. This may not amount to much physical damage, but the message is clear and the town needs to stand up to this form of racism

  3. I don’t advocate people stealing signs but it may have been taken because that person feels ALL LIVES matter. I had people walk up on to my property three times and steal or destroy my Trump for President signs in 2016. My husband caught the teenage boys the second time and they acted like THEY were the victims. My Dad taught me never to destroy or steal anyone else’s property so stealing this Church’s sign was wrong. I’m just not sure it was a “hate” crime.

    • Russell Gontar

      All lives DON’T matter. That is precisely the problem. Vandalism is unacceptable no matter what a person feels. Vandalism against a church and its propert is particularly reprehensible. And while I don’t approve of the destruction that came along with some of the recent protests, I can certainly understand why and when people have reached the boiling point. John Lewis, a giant of an American, stood on the steps of the Lincoln memorial in 1963 and said we’ve waited too long for justice. We don’t want to wait anymore. We want justice now. Almost 60 years later, we are still waiting. In the meantime, non whites are still routinely murdered in our streets or in their own beds by law enforcement or by racist Americans and their stupid guns. Sorry your hamburger stand got burned down while folks are choked to death for a (supposed) fake twenty, some loose cigarettes or shot in the back while running, literally, for their lives.

    • When someone responds to “Black Lives Matter” with “All Lives Matter,” they’re showing their own discomfort with offering support to Black people, who are presently over twice as likely to be killed by police as white people. It doesn’t say, “Black Lives Matter MORE,” it’s simply an acknowledgment that the men and women who are being killed by racialized violence each had lives that mattered, that the lives of Black people matter. Please consider watching this 15-second video (made by a UConn student, I think) to better understand:

      • I am one that thinks all lives matter. Police involved shootings in the USA surpass many countries, such as the UK. It is important to note that more white people are killed by police than black people but you can extrapolate it out by population and blacks are more likely to be killed. Look at the data whichever way you please but the issue is there are still a lot of police involved shootings in the USA, irrespective of race. I have watched many police involved shooting videos and have seen some very interesting stuff. Some where clearly it was necessary, some where there was perhaps choice, and some in between. Personally, I think police need reform as a whole but thats not to say there aren’t other root causes such as criminals having easy access to firearms, etc. I think that police training is inadequate in some cases. Its mind boggling that some lower paying professions require more training hours than becoming a police officer, in certain jurisdictions. There need to be minimum standards for all, and I actually think that police officers should be held to higher standards than an ordinary citizen. Those officers with complaints and data-driven “proof” they use force more often than other officers should perhaps not be police officers. From what I see, its easy for officers to retire, collect pension, and find jobs at other police departments, when the temperature is turned up on them. If I can be fired for any reason at my corporate job, why do police get so many protections or special treatment? I think every officer carrying a gun, should be required to wear a body cam, while on duty. I think that every police department’s SOP should require de-escalation techniques to be employed whenever possible as well as govern “less than lethal” use because it is just “less” than than not “non-lethal”. Finally, I do think there are good cops out there and thank them for their service. Its time to have a movement like other movements we’ve seen over the years and call out the bad apples.

  4. Again!? Last time a license plate
    with BLM on it led to toilet papered
    property. Subsequent escalation
    involved the same church erecting
    a banner with the BLM messaging
    which was vandalized twice with no
    one found guilty. The means to surveil
    the banner existed but to my knowledge,
    were not used. Hopefully the banner
    will not be defaced further, but events
    seem to argue against it.
    However unfair, rumors were quietly
    circulated that the church members
    had something to do with the banners
    fate. Hopefully calm on all sides will
    prevail as the run up to the election

  5. I would call it a “social justice” organization.

  6. Black Lives Mattters is a political organization. BLACK LIVES MATTERS is an affirmative statement showing support for the Black population in the United States and the systemic racism they have experienced that has resulted in a disproportionate exposure to poverty and prejudice that leaves a person with Black skin playing on an uneven playing field. Furthermore, it is a specific call for change in the way the police interact with population in general and Black people in specfic and a call for a change in the way crimes are punished in the United States such that the black population ends up disproportionately imprisoned for longer terms for the same offense. These are all principles that I would expect a Church to support. It is call to action.

  7. Dan: Who exactly are “these people”?

    To all “06880” readers: I have requested that Dan Herman provide me (privately) with proof that this is his real name, and proof of where he lives. If he does not respond, I will assume this is an alias, and will remove his posts.

  8. Dan Herman:

    White Privilege ≠ Privilege

    White privilege does not come with a nice house, high-performing school, nearly unlimited opportunities, the presence of two engaged parents, and financial security growing up. That’s called Privilege. FULL DISCLOSURE: I had all of that.

    There are various levels of the presence or absence of privilege that correlate with more or less money, the zip code you grew up in, the number of parents you had and the level of their engagement. Privilege is thoroughly color independent.

    White Privilege is a particular kind of privilege. White Privilege are the benefits that you get in life from your race, the shade of your skin, your facial features, and even your name.

    The more likely you are to be identified as white, the privileges you get in our society where many (if not most or all) people have an implicit bias in favor of White people or, perhaps, against Black people. As a white person, you are less likely to receive a severe punishment for the same rules infraction in school. You are more likely to receive a shorter prison sentence for committing the same crime. You are more likely to get a call for a job interview when submitting the same resume. In medicine, you are more likely to have subtle abnormalities reported on an imaging study because your name sounds black or because your picture is submitted to the radiologist and you ARE Black. The list is almost endless and new studies are coming out every day. Black Americans don’t have a lower graduation rate from high school or college because they don’t work hard. They aren’t late to work because they WANT to be. They don’t have a lower quantity of savings because it’s something they aspire to. 300 years of slavery, 100 years of oppression, and 50 years of equality under the law while note being perceived as equal has not provided an environment supportive of eliminating ANY of the disparities you’ve listed. That’s what Black Lives Matters, the Social Justice or Political group is trying to accomplish. That’s what the people screaming BLACK LIVES MATTERS are trying to make you understand.

    To finish my original point, White Privilege isn’t something you ask for, it’s just a benefit you get for being born the color you are. White Privilege makes no assumptions about how much money you have or where you grew up or how hard you had to work to accomplish your goals.

    The point of recognizing the existence of White Privilege is not to negate it in your own life. You can’t do that. It is a privilege given to you by others. However, you can try not to reward it to those you interact with. And you can call it out when you see it. It’s not easy to do and it’s not easy to learn how to do. But it’s important and it’s getting more important.

    Don’t mess with the Church’s sign.

    • The middle of the fourth paragraph should say:

      In medicine, you are LESS likely to have subtle abnormalities reported on an imaging study because your name sounds black or because your picture is submitted to the radiologist and you ARE Black.

  9. A. David Wunsch

    “Would save and invest their money over many years.” Yeah, and let them eat cake too. Working class people in this country spend all their earnings on food and shelter. They have no choice . I suggest that you read Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich . It might crack the bubble you are clearly living in .
    ADW Staples 1956

  10. Linda Hudson

    As a long time member of the Unitarian Church in Westport, let me address my comment to Diana. The first of 7 principles that we affirm is ‘The inherent worth and dignity of every person’, so clearly we understand that all lives matter. It’s a tough one to own up to, sometimes, but we are eternally aspiring to do so. The second principle promotes ‘Justice, equity and compassion in human relationships’, which is where the need to call out the injustices so clearly put forth by Evan Stein (thank you) in previous comments, comes into play. The desecration of both your signs and ours are, I believe, an expression of hate – or intolerance at the least. We can all do better.

  11. Reuben Goldburr

    Mr Herman, any church can fly any banner with any slogan they so please, political or not. It is between the church leadership/congregation. the issue is not the content of the banner, the issue is that people seem to feel entitled to destroy a message they personally disagree with. Black Lives Matter is not a political statement, it is an affirmation of human dignity, which I imagine a religious institution should feel strongly about. I would expect no less from any house of worship anywhere.

  12. Time to install a hidden “Game Camera”. A motion activated camera that would capture these criminals on film.

    • From what I understand, a hidden camera was installed when the previous BLM sign was destroyed.

      As for Art Lohman’s comment that the church members had something to do with the banners (sic) fate — as a long time member of the Unitarian Church, I cannot believe that a membership dedicated to Social Justice, who recite a Covenant beginning “Love is the Spirit of this Church,” and ending with “to dwell together in Peace,” would commit such a desecration.

  13. Nancy McKeever

    Thank you Linda for being such an articulate member of our community and setting a context for the statement in UU principles. I’m proud to be a member. Evan Stein, thanks for taking the time to write about white privilege.

  14. Note to readers: I asked Dan Herman to verify privately to me that that is his real name, and where he lives. He refused, saying that was “too much information to give.” I have deleted his comments.

    • A. David Wunsch

      Dan: when he asked me if I would have hired George Floyd I was going to say, “I’d hire him before I”d hire you.”
      ADW Staples 56

  15. Jack Backiel

    Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality In the 2016 movie “13th.” The 1959 book “Black Like Me” is very interesting.

  16. Agree very much with Jack Backiel and others who are suggesting a camera. While that, too, may be defaced or destroyed, it may help deter further vandalization or offer information about who is responsible. Property belonging to the church, and that the church community has chosen to display, is being destroyed, which is illegal and disrespectful regardless of what that property is or any individual’s feelings about its message.

  17. Jack Backiel

    Here’s a camera story. Manalapan, Florida has a population of 406 people as of the last census. Every person’s car that drives into town is photographed and the information is run through a computer and if there’s a warrant for that person, that person doesn’t get out of town. Manalapan begins about 5.5 miles south of Mar-a-Lago, on the same street. It’s on the ocean and ocean property is $50,000 dollars a linear foot. It’s a tightly run little town!

    • Elina Lublinsky

      Please, if you could elaborate on that story…
      Curious if there is more?
      Thank you.

      • Jack Backiel

        Elija, Were you asking me to elaborate?

        • Jack Backiel

          Oops.. it’s Elina.. sorry

          • Elina Lublinsky

            No prob at all,
            Yep, I was thinking if there is more to that story, and how it relates to the post about Westport.
            I feel like I might be missing a point…

            • Jack Backiel

              I was using an example of how an entire town is protected by cameras. If you can protect a town, you surely can protect the Unitarian Church property. My original comment was the first one to mention surveillance cameras.

  18. “The Unitarian Church in Westport is a diverse and welcoming religious community, free of creed and dogma, and open to people of all backgrounds and beliefs. WE INSPIRE and support individual spiritual growth. WE CONNECT through worship, music, learning, and caring ministries. WE ACT in the service of peace and justice.”

    This statement is posted several places in the Church and prominently on the front of our Bulletin.