Black Lives Matter banner vandalized at Newburyport church

Courtesy photoA slashed Black Lives Matter banner outside the First Religious Society, Unitarian Universalist Church in Newburyport.

NEWBURYPORT — A Black Lives Matter banner that the First Religious Society, Unitarian Universalist Church has proudly flown for almost a year was vandalized overnight Monday, shredded by a sharp blade.

The Rev. Rebecca Bryan, pastor of the Pleasant Street church, said she received a call Tuesday morning alerting her of the damage to the banner her church has hung outside  its sanctuary since June.

Bryan quickly headed to the church and saw the banner hanging in tatters.

"This reminds me that we have a long way to go," she said. "The sign was vandalized with a knife and is completely shredded. It was violent."

Bryan said she made sure to have the banner taken down Tuesday and intends to replace it soon.

"My response as a pastor, as a member of this community, and as a mother was to think about the children in my church who are Black and the children and teens living in our community who are Black," Bryan said. "I went right to those kids in my mind and thought about, how would they feel walking by and seeing that? So, yes we have taken it down."

Bryan said she reported the damage to the city's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Alliance and the Human Rights Commission, and intended to report the vandalism to police later in the day.

But Bryan said she is less concerned about catching the vandal than dealing with the underlying problem.

"We, as a church, are all about the values and gifts of diversity, not only in race but of opinion and dialogue," she said. "I really don't have an idea of who did it in my mind, I am responding to the what."

No other incidents were reported to police as of Tuesday afternoon.

"I can't help but think, what does this say to anyone simply walking by but most importantly to a youth?" Bryan said. "That is horrific to me."

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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