‘Black Lives Matter’ Banner Vandalized In Front of Silver Spring Church

Vandalism is latest in a series of similar incidents involving ‘Black Lives Matter’ signs around the country


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The sign in front of the Colesville Presbyterian Church on Sunday

Aaron Kraut

Members at a Silver Spring church put a Black Lives Matter banner in front of their building earlier this month.

Eight days later, they found the word “All” painted in red over the word “Black.”

The church, the Colesville Presbyterian Church on New Hampshire Avenue, is one of many around the country where people have defaced or stolen Black Lives Matter signs. In August, a Black Lives Matter banner in front of the River Road Universalist Congregation in Bethesda was stolen. Two other signs at the church had been vandalized. In July, someone cut out the word “Black” from the sign. A few weeks later, someone did the same thing to a new sign.

“Of course all lives matter, but there’s a particular problem about young black people, black people in general being killed and abused,” said Colesville Presbyterian Church Rev. Caroline Wilson. “If you were concerned about the hunting of whales to extinction, you probably would not put up a sign that said, ‘All marine life matters.’ You’d put up a sign that said ‘Save the whales.’”

Wilson said the church’s outreach committee decided to hang the banner, which is on a mostly residential stretch of six-lane New Hampshire Avenue.

The church was founded in 1960 as a multi-cultural and multi-racial congregation. Wilson said about 30 percent of the church’s 380 members are minorities.

“Based on our foundational principles, we felt this was an appropriate thing to do,” Wilson said. “After the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore, we started having monthly dialogs on race relations and hearing from our people of color how they felt about these issues. This was something we decided we wanted to make a statement about.”

The spray paint on the sign has remained since the incident happened, which Wilson said was on the night of Sept. 20 or early morning of Sept. 21.

“It’s sort of like a badge of honor, because people are watching and paying attention,” Wilson said.

The church will try to clean off the spray-painted “All” from the sign soon. Wilson said county sign rules already mandate that the church rotate the banner every 30 days, at which time the cleaning is likely to happen.

Meanwhile, the River Road Universalist Congregation has only increased its activism relating to the Black Lives Matter movement. Members held a prayer vigil last Friday night on River Road for “communities impacted by systemic racist violence and injustice.” Many brought Black Lives Matter signs.

On Oct. 10, the congregation will host a workshop on how to use prayer, ritual and song to take part in the movement.

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