Historic Black churches’ Black Lives Matter sign, banner vandalized amid pro-Trump demonstrations in DC
In cases now being investigated as possible hate crimes, two historic Black churches in Washington, D.C., reportedly saw their sign and banner supporting the Black Lives Matter movement taken down and vandalized by protesters amid local pro-Trump demonstrations over the weekend.
According to The Washington Post, a Black Lives Matter banner that belonged to Asbury United Methodist Church was taken down during the demonstrations late Saturday, along with a sign bearing the same words that belonged to Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church.
The paper reports that the banner is the same one that was seen in now-viral footage being set aflame among a group of people cheering who have been identified as members of the far-right Proud Boys group.
The Proud Boys and Trump supporters burn the BLM banner while chanting and cheering in downtown DC: pic.twitter.com/L16azBBhbr
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) December 13, 2020
The Post also pointed to footage in its coverage that showed the moment a group of demonstrators took down a Black Lives Matter sign from outside Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church before repeatedly stomping on it.
— Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene) December 13, 2020
The Rev. Ianther Mills, a senior pastor at Asbury United Methodist Church, which has stood in the District for more than 180 years, said in a statement that the display was “reminiscent of cross burnings.”
“Last night demonstrators who were part of the MAGA gatherings tore down our Black Lives Matter sign and literally burned it in the street,” he said.
“Seeing this act on video made me both indignant and determined to fight the evil that has reared its ugly head. We had been so confident that no one would ever vandalize the church, but it has happened,” he continued.
Alaina Gertz, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police Department, told the Post that authorities take the offenses “seriously” and “are currently investigating them as a possible hate crimes.”
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) said in a statement on Sunday that the Office of Religious Affairs and the Metropolitan Police Department are also “engaging the impacted houses of worship” and asked for anyone “with information or video in the area of the houses of worship” to contact the local authorities.
“DC’s faith-based organizations are at the very heart of our community, giving us hope in the face of darkness. They embody our DC values of love and inclusivity. An attack on them is an attack on all of us,” she also said.
The incidents occurred amid the “Stop the Steal” protests held in the D.C. on Saturday, when supporters of the president rallied to protest election results, according to CNN.
Clashes also reportedly broke out between counterprotesters and Trump supporters during the demonstrations. At least four people were stabbed as a result and are in critical condition. More than 20 people were arrested during the protests.