Vandals tore down a Black Lives Matter banner and sign from two historic Black churches in downtown Washington and set the banner ablaze as nighttime clashes Saturday between pro-Donald Trump supporters and counterdemonstrators erupted into violence and arrests.
Police on Sunday said they were investigating the incidents at the Asbury United Methodist Church and Metropolitan A.M.E. Church as potential hate crimes, which one religious leader likened to a cross burning.
“This weekend, we saw forces of hate seeking to use destruction and intimidation to tear us apart,” District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser said Sunday. “We will not let that happen.”
A video posted on Twitter showed a group of men appearing to take down a BLM sign at the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church as others in the crowd shout, “Whose streets? Our streets.” Another video showed people pouring an accelerant on a BLM banner and setting it ablaze in the street as others cheered and cursed Antifa. Someone walks up to about a minute later and uses a fire extinguisher to put out the flames.