“Black Lives Matter” Banner Vandalized at Main Line Church?
No sooner had this month’s issue of Philadelphia hit newsstands with its cover story “Racial Profiling on the Main Line” than one of the institutions featured in the story was hit with what they say is an act of vandalism.
Central Baptist Church in Wayne, which had planted a “Black Lives Matter” banner on its front lawn and received a flood of hostile calls and vague threats in return, kept the banner in place despite the criticism. But last week, the banner was torn nearly in two.
“It was the weekend after the story appeared,” said Tom Beers, pastoral partner at Central Baptist along with Laurie Sweigard. “We’ve taped it back together and will replace it soon.”
“We have no idea who committed the act,” said Sweigard. “Obviously, it’s someone who doesn’t like our ‘Black Lives Matter’ message, because none of our other signs were vandalized, and we have several other signs on our grounds.
“When you’re trying to change the system, this sort of thing happens, but it won’t stop us,” she continued.
Both Sweigard and Beers said that they received many messages in support of the church and their efforts after the story appeared. “There was a little of the hate stuff, but mostly positive affirmation since the story ran,” said Beers.
One of the handful of hate messages was a post to the church’s Facebook page stating, “The sign will come down.” Sweigard said the person who posted it lives in Florida, however, and may not have any connection to the tearing of the sign.
Many of those who contacted the church to extend their support expressed surprise at the breadth and depth of racism on the Main Line, Beers said, “and those largely came from revelations they learned in the article.”
All this has only made Central Baptist even more committed to fighting bigotry in its backyard. Sweigard said the church will be both presenting followup events of its own in connection with its ongoing “Undoing Racism” program and collaborating with other communities of faith on the Main Line. “Our hope is to bring racial justice for African-Americans,” she said.
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