This week, in the city where I live, the mayor endorsed the installation of a Black Lives Matters sign on the City Hall building. Downtown. On Main Street. On the front-facing facade of the building that is the seat of local government. With the support of the city police chief. Hundreds came out in support of this public statement for justice and for fair, effective policing.
A Facebook post by the mayor, David Narkewicz, addresses concerns that a statement about Black Lives Matters was inherently anti-police. There are many comments in support of the hanging of this sign. And there are many who are against it, expressing concern that such a statement is anti-police or that such a statement suggests that only Black Lives Matters — notions both of which are remarkably misguided.
As I understand it,
- Black Lives Matters stands against police brutality, not against police.
- Black Lives Matters calls out systematic racism in our law enforcement and criminal justice systems. Rightly so.
- By affirming that Black Lives Matters, we are called to live into our values that all lives matter by acknowledging the disproportionate violence leveled against Black and Brown people in this country. Again, rightly so.
Last summer, I placed a Black Lives Matter sign on my front lawn.
As part of a local effort of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), I knocked on doors in my neighborhood. I spoke with my neighbors about our nation, the state of affairs when it comes to race, and how my heart is breaking. I wrote about that experience here. Some neighbors talked. Some did not want to. Some were not home. I have become friendly with more neighbors because of our meeting each other this way. Two of my neighbors took signs and placed them in their yard, where they continue to be to this day.
About two weeks ago, someone decided to steal the sign in front of my house. It turns out, this is not uncommon.
This incident joins the numerous others of Black Lives Matters signs being vandalized or destroyed. The local police do not distinguish between Black Lives Matters signs being removed and other signs, political or not, being removed. They say they cannot do much about it. But I can.
So today I replaced it.
“For there is hope for a tree,
if it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
and that its shoots will not cease.” Job 14:7
But not just with one sign.
“If I go to prison, if anything happens to me, a million others will spring up to take my place.” Marcus Garvey