Some churches are bracing themselves for another round of protests surrounding the results of the presidential election, and asking for special security after pro-Trump protesters destroyed Black Lives Matter banners several times.
“At least five congregations have had Black Lives Matter signs destroyed [and] stolen,” Terry Lynch, spokesperson for the Downtown Cluster of Congregations representing the historic Black churches downtown, said.
The images of a group of Proud Boys tearing down and burning a Black Lives Matter banner that hung outside Asbury United Methodist Church during MAGA protests on Dec. 12 are indelible.
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The leader of the group proudly claimed credit for the vandalism and denied that it was racially motivated. Police are investigating it and other similar incidents as hate crimes.
“There has not yet been an arrest -- a single arrest,” Lynch said.
The sign was ceremoniously replaced a week later, only to be unceremoniously ripped down again after a few days.
Church leaders believe it happened over the Christmas holiday. That incident is under investigation.
"Unless something dramatic happens, we unfortunately are going to expect more of that this coming week,” Lynch said.
With similar protests planned for Wednesday, church leaders are asking the Metropolitan Police Department for a special detail at Asbury Church. They want high police visibility because they feel they're being targeted.
"We need to get through this week safely and it’s going to take more than just police video cameras to do that,” Lynch said.
Incoming D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee said the MPD will do their part.
“Well, our intention is certainly to pretty much make sure that we facilitate the peaceful protest, intervene when we need to intervene and make arrests when we need to make arrests,” he said.
He noted that his former command, the special operations division that handles protests, gives him a unique perspective on what's ahead.
Meanwhile, there are plans to once again replace the Black Lives Matter banner, in hopes that this time will be different.
“It’s actually bad for business in the long term. We don’t want to have this image of downtown. This is taking us back. This is taking the whole community back,” Lynch said.