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Friday, August 25, 2017

Church ‘Black Lives Matter’ Banner Vandalized, Bringing Condemnation

A “Black Lives Matter” banner was ripped from its frame outside Westport’s Unitarian Church this week, an act that brought strong condemnation today from town officials and a vow from the church’s leader to replace it and any future sign that is vandalized.

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The banner was ripped from its frame sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday morning. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo (top) and WestportNow.com photo

Police appealed for information from anyone in the public who might have information about the vandalism. According to Lt. Jillian Cabana, it occurred at the church, 10 Lyons Plains Road, during the overnight hours of Wednesday and Thursday.

First Selectman Jim Marpe saying “hatred and bigotry are not welcome here,” promised every effort would be made to find those who did it.

The Rev. John Morehouse, senior minister, said in an internet posting, “We presume that those who took our sign feel that by removing it they repudiate its message that black lives matter just as much as any other life.”

He added: “We will replace this sign and any future sign which is vandalized and stolen, until such a time as all lives, black, brown, gay or marginalized matter as much as white lives do. We will not be intimidated by the forces of bigotry and hate.”

Just last week Marpe, who is running for a second term, posted a video on his campaign website taking President Donald J. Trump to task “for not being clear enough” in his condemnation of a white supremacy march in Charlottesville, Va. where a counter-protester had been killed.

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The “Black Lives Matter” banner was dedicated at the church on Oct. 9, 2016. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

“Given the current climate in this country and in the State of Connecticut, the administration of the Town of Westport and the Westport Police Department will not stand for this behavior,” Marpe said today.

“We will dedicate our resources to identifying the person or persons responsible for this vandalism.

“We urge our community to be respectful of the opinions of others and their right to express them, even if they may differ from their own,” he added. “Hatred and bigotry are not welcome here.”

Police Chief Foti Koskinas said that his department is working with the church administration “to prevent further incidents.”

“We support and respect the Unitarian Church, its members and their message of inclusiveness, equality and tolerance,” Koskinas said.

Cabana said that Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) regional office has been contacted and has responded that it will work with the community, offering its resources to the town, police department and the Unitarian Church.

“I was honored to be present at the unveiling of this banner, and as a result, it makes it even more personal,” Marpe said about its dedication Oct. 9, 2016. “Regardless, we will dedicate the town’s resources to finding the perpetrators.”

—James Lomuscio

 

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Posted 08/25/17 at 05:32 PM  Permalink



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