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Towson congregation's Black Lives Matter sign repeatedly vandalized

This sign was vandalized on the property of the Towson Unitarian Universalist Church, in Luthervillle-Timonium, on the night of Nov. 8-9.
This sign was vandalized on the property of the Towson Unitarian Universalist Church, in Luthervillle-Timonium, on the night of Nov. 8-9. (Rachael Pacella / Staff Photo)

On the morning of Nov. 9, the Rev. Clare Petersberger came to the Towson Unitarian Universalist Church and found that someone had, for a third time, tampered with a sign on the congregation's property that states, "Black Lives Matter."

The congregation voted in June to put up the sign as a show of support for the dignity and worth of all lives by upholding the right and freedoms of African-Americans, a group which has "long been oppressed" by institutionalized racism, Petersberger said.

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Three 4-foot-by-2-foot banners, each containing one word of the phrase, were hung Oct. 9 from a PVC pipe frame at the edge of the church's property, along Dulaney Valley Road, in Lutherville-Timonium.

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The first sign was torn down Oct. 14, Petersberger said, adding that its frame was irreparably damaged, though the banners listing the words were mostly intact. The sign cost the church roughly $250.

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The church is working on a way to hang the banners again at the edge of the property. In the meantime, the congregation bought cheaper yard signs to provide a temporary replacement.

Those signs were put up Oct. 30 and stolen Nov. 2 . Fearing that those signs might be vandalized, the congregation had purchased 12 replacement signs at a cost of $7-$8 dollars each.

On the night of Nov. 8- 9, someone covered the word "black" on the temporary signs with white spray paint.

Petersberger said she couldn't speculate about the motivation behind the actions.

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Three police reports have been filed related to the incidents; all three cases are listed as suspended, according to police records, meaning that the cases can be reopened if more information is obtained by police. Persons with information should contact the Cockeysville Precinct of the Baltimore County Police at 410-887-1820.

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In the report on the Oct. 14 incident, officers described it as dealing with "potentially controversial subject matter." The officer who responded to the scene requested an officer with a body camera join them at the scene.

Copies of the Oct. 14 police report were sent to the office of Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson, the department's media relations office, community outreach, youth and community resources and others "due to the potentially sensitive nature of the incident," the report stated.

Last week, Mount Olive Baptist Church, on York Road, in Towson, was vandalized when someone wrote profane language and drew a Nazi "SS" symbol on a door to the church in human feces. Police said that case also is suspended.

The Black Lives Matter movement began in 2012, after the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, in Florida, according to the group's website, www.blacklivesmatter.com. Officials contacted through the website did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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