A man and his stepfather pleaded not guilty Tuesday during their arraignments on charges alleging they repeatedly vandalized a home in Lynnfield that had several Black Lives Matter signs stolen over the last month, officials said.
Joshua Simpson, 21, and Stephen Smith, 55, both of Lynnfield, were arrested Tuesday after an investigation by police into reports of property destruction and civil rights violations at the home on Summer Street, the Essex district attorney’s office said in a statement.
A resident first reported the vandalism on Aug. 17 after discovering an obscenity directed toward Black Lives Matter painted on the driveway, the Essex district attorney’s office said in a statement.
The resident said their Black Lives Matter sign was stolen the night before, but did not report it, prosecutors said.
Since then, police have investigated several acts of vandalism and property destruction at the home, including an obscenity spray painted on a tree, several stolen Black Lives Matter signs, and eggs and tomatoes thrown at the residence, the statement said.
While police were conducting surveillance of the home early Tuesday morning, they observed Simpson approaching the residence with a carton of eggs. When officers approached him, a struggle allegedly ensued, the statement said.
A short time later, Simpson’s stepfather, Smith, drove by the scene and tried to run the officers over with his vehicle, prosecutors said.
Simpson and Smith were both arraigned Tuesday in Peabody District Court, prosecutors said.
Simpson pleaded not guilty to malicious destruction of property, two counts of larceny under $1,200, vandalizing property, resisting arrest, property damage to intimidate, and criminal harassment, prosecutors said.
His bail was set at $750, and he was ordered to stay away from all victims and witnesses, stay at least 1,000 feet away from the victim’s home, and remain alcohol free.
A pre-trial conference is scheduled for September 30, prosecutors said.
Smith pleaded not guilty to operating under the influence of alcohol, three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, property damage to intimidate, and assault to murder, prosecutors said.
He was ordered held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing scheduled for September 21.
“This department spent countless hours responding to these reports and working with the homeowners to identify the perpetrators,” Lynnfield Police Chief David Breen said in the statement. “I am hopeful that these arrests and eventual prosecution of these individuals will help provide some peace of mind to the victims and send a message to others that this type of conduct will not be tolerated in this community.”