Four Arlington churches will gather in prayer at noon on Sunday to bless a “Black Lives Matter” banner at First Parish Unitarian Universalist church that has been vandalized three times, including twice since Thanksgiving.
Clergy and parishioners from the Calvary United Methodist Church, the Church of Our Saviour, and the Park Avenue Congregational Church will take part in the ceremony to show support for First Parish, where the banner stands on the front lawn.
The three churches all plan to put up their own “Black Lives Matter” banners, said Loria Kenschaft, the clerk for the church.
On Thanksgiving, vandals spelled out the word “ALL” in black electrical tape, put it on poster board and covered up the word “Black,” Kenschaft said.
On Saturday, vandals struck again, this time using black marker to strike out the word “Black” and scrawl “ALL” above it, she said.
Kenschaft said she wasn’t sure if the first incident had anything to do with the vandalism at Harvard Law School, where black electrical tape was placed over the faces of black faculty members.
Each of the Arlington church’s incidents has been reported to Arlington police, who are investigating, Kenschaft said.
Arlington Police could not be reached for comment on Saturday evening.
The banner was first put up in January, as part of a national movement to draw attention to the plight of unnarmed black people shot by law enforcement.
The church did not experience any problems, or criticism from the public until October, when the banner was vandalized with spray paint and its frame ripped from the ground. A new banner was put up and rededicated.
Kenschaft noted the banner survived the harsh winter, but not a spree of vandalism this fall.
“There was no controversy, no negativity,” said Kenschaft. “This fall, it’s been different. More negative comments, more vitriolic responses.”
Asked if she had any words for the vandals, Kenschaft said, “We would really love to speak with you and understand why you did this.”Aimee Ortiz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on twitter @aimee_ortiz.