A display honoring the Black Lives Matter movement outside of University United Methodist Church was knocked down sometime between the evening of Thursday, May 6 and the morning of Friday, May 7.
The Black Lives Matter door is one of several that stand outside of the church that together read “God’s doors are open to all" and "Black Lives Matter." Rev. Justin Coleman said the church believes the perpetrator used a large hammer or sledgehammer to knock the door down.
A police report was filed after the incident, but church pastors and staff still do not know who the culprit was. Coleman said the door had previously been damaged and knocked down in two separate incidents.
“We don’t know if it’s the same person or different people, we don’t know if it’s an individual or a group, but we know that the sentiment is out there, that people would resist statements like Black Lives Matter,” he said. “So we think it's an important part of our public witness to just keep on standing up for what we believe.”
Coleman said a UNC student picked up the cross and Black Lives Matter door and notified the church.
By May 14, the display had been restored by members of the church community. Coleman said the church was planning to order a new door to replace the damaged one.
“Right now we think it’s symbolic to have this door that looks damaged but still standing up again,” Coleman said. “We think that’s an important message for the community to see.”
People gave support to the church over Facebook and Instagram. Erika Watson Lusk, a Chapel Hill resident and a member of the church, wrote in an Instagram comment that she was happy to have a church staff and congregation who would not back down from what was right.
A Facebook post by the church detailed how the institution's support for the Black Lives Matter movement is part of their commitment to the care of all lives.
“There often is a time and a place where certain of God’s people need and deserve special focus, and we believe this is a time when Black individuals in our society and community need that focus and lifting up,” the Facebook post reads.
Coleman said the church plans to keep showing support for what they believe in despite this incident and previous vandalism.
“We feel that part of any kind of public witness to our faith and what we value, what we stand for might be met with some resistance,” Coleman said.
He said if there wasn't going to be resistance, they wouldn't have to say Black Lives Matter or any other statement calling for the inclusion of marginalized communities.
Coleman also voiced concern that the person or people who knocked down the door might be willing to do harm to people either verbally or physically.
“I hope that whoever has done this will engage in a journey of discovery and transformation that would make it the case that they would neither do acts of vandalism, but also that they would not hurt people by what they believe and what they support,” he said.
If you have any information about the incident, please call the Chapel Hill Police Department at (919) 968-2760.
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