Vandals punched and kicked a hole through the “Black Lives Matter” lawn sign at Eliot Unitarian Chapel, 100 S. Taylor Ave. in Kirkwood, at about 2 a.m. on Thursday, May 27.
Security footage shows three people damaging the sign from behind, eventually kicking through it, as well as tearing off a protective plastic cover. This follows another incident on Thursday, May 13, when vandals pushed the sign over, damaging the posts securing it. Church officials report that they have received anonymous letters critical of the sign for the past three weeks.
“This doesn’t look like drunk kids playing a prank, but a deliberate, planned act — and a violent one,” said Lead Minister Rev. Barbara Gadon. “Repeatedly targeting a sign that promotes justice for black and brown people is clearly racist. To me, this shows more than ever that we need to keep repeating this message.”
Eliot Unitarian Chapel has been holding weekly vigils for healing and hope and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement since 2014. When COVID-19 restrictions forced the vigils to go virtual last November, the group had a “Black Lives Matter” with the Unitarian Universalist symbol of a lit chalice placed on the lawn of the church. Days before the live vigils were set to resume two weeks ago, the vandalism started.
“We know we have lots of support in the community based on all the honks and waves and thank you’s from passers-by,” said Bob Becker, a church member and retired Kirkwood High School teacher who helps to coordinate the vigils. “It’s sad, though, that this level of animosity and bigotry still exists in Kirkwood.”
The Kirkwood Police Department has the film footage of the vandalism and is investigating.
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