Church’s Black Lives Matter banner vandalized — again
WESTPORT — For the second time in a month, a Black Lives Matter banner hung outside the Unitarian Church of Westport was ripped down over the weekend, though it will soon be rehung.
“We’re going to keep hanging banners because obviously the fact that it’s being taken down means that it’s needed,” said the Rev. John Morehouse, the church’s senior minister. He said the church plans to have the banner, which Morehouse believes was torn down sometime Saturday, back up by the end of the week.
In August, the banner — positioned near the road next to a sign that says “Hate Has No Home Here” in six different languages — was cut down from the metal frame on which it hung, prompting the church to rededicate and rehang the banner on Sept. 17. While the church plans to promptly rehang the banner, a second rededication is unlikely, Morehouse said.
The banner was first hung in October and was not universally accepted from the outset.
“There was some pushback in October, not from elected officials, but from some individuals in the community,” Morehouse said. “Most were great opportunities to talk to people. We had great conversations with folks. The banner did what we wanted it to do in that it started a dialogue.”
In the year since, and especially following the August incident, Morehouse said the community has come to more readily embrace the sign. The church received some donations to enable the purchase of the second sign and has received more to purchase a third.
“The response in the community was pretty positive. There definitely was an improvement in people’s attitude and understanding of what the banner means,” Morehouse said.
First Selectman Jim Marpe, who was present at the rededication last week, said he was “very angry” the sign had been vandalized again.
“Wesport takes pride in its belief of freedom of speech and ability to express views and dialogue with each other, even when we may disagree,” Marpe said. “Having the sign disappear again is an affront to all Westporters, regardless of their point of view.”
According to Westport police Lt. Jillian Cabana, the vandalism, reported around noon Sept. 24, is under investigation.