Downtown DC

Protesters Ripped, Set Fire to BLM Signs at DC Churches, Organizers Respond

The incidents are being investigated as potential hate crimes, D.C.'s Chief of Police said Monday

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Black Lives Matter D.C. condemned vandalism to several downtown churches that took place during Saturday night's protests, claiming D.C. police officers "physically protected white supremacists, as they threatened lives, damaged historic churches and destroyed and burned property."

Black Lives Matter organizers and one of the churches claim the damage was done by members of the Proud Boys and by supporters of President Donald Trump.

Footage of the incidents obtained by News4 appear to show demonstrators setting fire to a BLM sign at Asbury United Methodist Church and tearing a sign off the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal, then ripping it in half.

D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said at a press conference Monday that at least four D.C. churches had property destroyed on Saturday. The churches include:

  • Metropolitan A.M.E. Church
  • Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church
  • Asbury United Methodist Church
  • Luther Place Memorial Church

“Preliminarily, we’re investigating these as potential hate crimes,” said Newsham.

Newsham said that while Saturday night involved conflict between "mutual combatants," there were "large numbers of folks who self-identified as Proud Boys" and "smaller numbers, in my estimation, of folks who I would describe as anti-Trump groups."

During Saturday's rallies in support of President Trump, a Black Lives Matter sign was destroyed. The incident is being investigated as a possible hate crime, according to police. Darcy Spencer reports for News4 on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020.

He further specified that the ratio of Trump supporters to counterprotesters was about 6:1 or 7:1.

MPD detectives are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying suspects in the incidents.

"Last night demonstrators who were part of the MAGA gatherings tore down our Black Lives Matter sign and literally burned it in the street," Rev. Dr. Ianther M. Mills, Senior Pastor of the Asbury United Methodist Church wrote in a statement.

"Seeing this act on video made me both indignant and determined to fight the evil that has reared its ugly head," Rev. Mills wrote. "We had been so confident that no one would ever vandalize the church, but it has happened."

"MPD allowed Proud Boys to physically attack D.C. residents who stood against white supremacy," said April Goggans, a core organizer with Black Lives Matter DC.

Black Lives Matter D.C. leaders held a news conference Sunday at Black Lives Matter Plaza in downtown D.C. to call on D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to protect District residents from "Trump supporters and white supremacists" and to hold the police "accountable for enabling white supremacist violence."

“D.C.’s faith-based organizations are at the very heart of our community, giving us hope in the face of darkness," Bowser wrote in a statement Sunday.

"An attack on them is an attack on all of us," she wrote. "The Mayor’s Office of Religious Affairs and the Metropolitan Police Department are engaging the impacted houses of worship today, and anyone with information or video in the area of the houses of worship should call 202-727-9099 or text 50411.”

The vandalism happened amid clashes between supporters of President Donald Trump and counterprotesters Saturday night. Earlier in the day, Trump supporters rallied in the District.

Tensions rose Saturday evening as widespread but sporadic clashes broke out downtown.

In other incidents during Saturday night's clashes, nine people were injured -- including four who were stabbed -- and at least 33 arrests were made during a volatile night of clashes between supporters of President Donald Trump and counterprotesters in Washington, D.C.

Photos: President Trump's Supporters, Counterprotesters Show Up for Million MAGA March

This is a developing story. Refresh for updates.

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