KIRKWOOD, Mo. – Members of the Eliot Unitarian Chapel are rallying after its Black Lives Matter sign is vandalized. This is the third time it’s happened since May 7 and the destruction has been more aggressive each time. But church leaders and congregants say damaging their sign won’t stop their message.
“It has been punched and kicked and ripped from its frame and it’s still standing,” said Minister Barbara Gadon. “You can destroy a sign but you cannot destroy a movement. And this a powerful movement.”
A weekly vigil for black lives has been held at the chapel since the killing of Michael Brown by a Ferguson Police officer in 2014.
Gadon says it’s clear racism is alive in the area still and that doesn’t sit well with her or church members like Joel Vanderheyden who has gone to the chapel for several years.
“For those people who say racism doesn’t exist anymore or it’s a thing of the past, this makes it very obvious it’s not,” he said.
Whoever is responsible for damaging the BLM sign won’t deter the church from holding its Tuesday night vigils.
“We will build another sign. And another one. And another one after that,” Gadon said. “Because we are patient people.”
Vanderheyden says the large show of support is both a powerful gesture and proves “that we’re not going anywhere.”
People say they’d even welcome a chance to speak with the culprits.
“A lot of that is just lack of awareness; a lack of education,” Vanderheyden said. “It’s easy for people to get mad at somebody like that. But I think it’s important for us to sit down and have conversations with people like that.”