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Westport Church Dedicates New Black Lives Matter Banner After Vandalism

The new Black Lives Matter banner at the Unitarian Church in Westport.
The new Black Lives Matter banner at the Unitarian Church in Westport. Photo Credit: Courtesy of David Vita
Rev. John Morehouse and the new Black Lives Matter banner.
Rev. John Morehouse and the new Black Lives Matter banner. Photo Credit: Courtesy of David Vita
Rev. John Morehouse speaks at the dedication of a new Black Lives Matter banner at the Unitarian Church in Westport.
Rev. John Morehouse speaks at the dedication of a new Black Lives Matter banner at the Unitarian Church in Westport. Photo Credit: Courtesy of David Vita
Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe speaks at the dedication of a new Black Lives Matter banner at the Unitarian Church in Westport.
Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe speaks at the dedication of a new Black Lives Matter banner at the Unitarian Church in Westport. Photo Credit: Courtesy of David Vita

WESTPORT, Conn. -- The Unitarian Church in Westport dedicated a new Black Lives Matter banner on Sunday to replace the one that was ripped down and stolen during the night of Aug. 23.

The banner was hanging outside the church when it was cut off and ripped from its metal frame during the overnight hours, according to police.

In opening the dedication program on Sunday, the Rev. Dr. John Morehouse, Senior Minister at the Unitarian Church in Westport, described the outpouring of support from the community for the message of inclusion and love behind the banner as being “absolutely incredible.”

“When we say black lives matter we’re not saying that they matter more than other lives, we’re just saying black lives matter," Morehouse said. "There’s a reality in America today that black lives really don’t matter as much as other lives.”

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe and Rev. Cass Shaw, President and CEO of the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport, who both participated in the dedication of the first banner on Oct. 9, 2016, were present.

Shaw spoke about the conversations that the Council of Churches is facilitating between the Unitarian Church and Messiah Baptist Church in Bridgeport and the importance of building relationships where people listen to each other’s stories with openness and respect.

“I believe that every time this banner gets taken down consciousness gets raised, people pay more attention and understand how silent we’ve been and how much more ground we have to cover before we can really say that we are honestly partnering with brothers and sisters of color,” Shaw said.

Marpe’s comments focused on a Westport community that stands for the free and open exchange of ideas. “You may differ in your opinion but you have no business doing the kind of vandalism and extreme activity that resulted in us having to have this re-dedication,” he said.

Also speaking were Catherine Onyemelukwe representing TEAM Westport, the towns diversity committee, and Lynda Bluestein, president of the church’s Board of Trustees.

Morehouse ended the program saying, “This banner is hereby dedicated to the cause of tolerance and understanding in our community so that we may find our way forward in these dark times.”

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