I live in Hunterdon County. New Jersey. America. So I have plenty of opportunities to talk things over with people who don’t agree with me; in fact that only strengthens my resolve (and sharpens my persuasive skills). But I think I want 10 minutes with who ever did this – not to pummel them, but on the serious to ask them WTF.
Somebody or some group of somebodies went onto the lawn of Cherry Hill’s Unitarian Universalist Church and ripped down an orange and black sign that says Black Lives Matter. And I wonder at these people. Who trespasses at a church? To do damage? During the holiest week in the Christian calendar? Who finds the message of Black Lives Matter so offensive they risk arrest for the opportunity to be a hoodlum?
It’s easy to assume – there’s plenty of evidence to suggest – that this kind of thing is an offshoot, directly or indirectly, of the permission the Donald Trump show is giving white racists to threaten, intimidate and outright attack black people. The sneer of privilege that sees any attempt by African-American people to stand up against bigotry, or even a church to open dialogue, brings an avalanche of resentful comebacks that all lives matter. As though somebody who looks like me stands much chance to end up dead in a jail after a routine traffic stop (say her name: Sandra Bland) or choked to death with impunity in front of witnesses for a minor offense (say his name: Eric Garner), or shot in the back 16 times with no less than mayor of Chicago trying to conceal the video (say his name: Laquan McDonald – and especially point to and name Mayor Rahm Emanuel).
I have so much respect for people who stand up against intimidation, and especially when I see somebody young do it – like this young student Sierra K. Thomas, who drove three hours and stood up and yelled Black Lives Matter! at the same Trump rally where a black man got sucker punched by a white man. She is not my child; if she was, I’d be pleading her not to for her own safety. But since Ferguson (Michael Brown), the grit, the courage and the audacity in America’s divide on race has been led by young people (and it’s damned impressive).
And she and all the rest of it must be terrifying to Trump’s unleashed white legions, most of whom describe themselves as “Christian” (and are defended by so-called “Christians” like Jerry Falwell) that anyone dare to challenge their “God-given” primacy. Or even that a humble church throw its doors open for that discussion.
I know not every Trump voter is a maniac with a straight-blade (what apparently ripped the sign) or a gun. I know it. And I have no evidence beyond common sense to nail the Republican campaign for this act of vandalism. Every campaign, every candidate’s spokesperson would quickly disavow destruction of property. Of course they would. But Trump’s own conduct and words are enough that authorities considered – but ultimately decided against – charging Donald Trump with inciting a riot in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Jim Walsh’s reporting at the C-P tells us the Cherry Hill Unitarians plan to go on discussing the questions raised by the Black Lives Matter movement as they did for the Feb. 25 event the banner originally advertised. Good.
Photo: Jim Walsh, Courier-Post