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‘Black Lives Matter’ signs stolen off church lawn in Hartford

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HARTFORD - Leaders at the Unitarian Society of Hartford said their “Black Lives Matter,” signs were stolen 13 times since August.

During the most recent theft, according to Rev. Cathy Rion Starr, the thief replaced the signs with  one "Trump for President" lawn sign.

“Our faith calls us to build the beloved community, and rather than condemn those who steal, we are calling on our political leadership to join us in a call for abundant love, to renounce racism and embrace justice,” said Starr, who is co-minister of the congregation.

The congregation celebrated its annual Flower Communion service, Sunday, handing out flowers as a sign of abundant beauty and love, to those on their way to the University of Hartford graduation, and any passersby.

Each flower came with a letter calling on all political parties and people to condemn hate and embrace racial justice.

“We’re giving out flowers today to the graduates to say congratulations and also asking them to sign a letter to our legislative leadership calling for an end to the political divisiveness,” Starr said. “Calling on our legislative leaders and our political leaders to really confront racism in their political parties and throughout the justice system, we’re calling for racial justice.”

Sunday’s efforts are part of a national movement called Love Is Unstoppable by Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ).

“I think a lot of folks wouldn`t consider it racism, to take the Black Lives Matter sign, they think that they`re defending their own rights, but the statement of Black Lives Matter does not say that any other life doesn`t matter. It is just making a public declaration that black lives do matter,” Hartford resident Jason Fredlund said.

“We want to be good neighbors so we`re saying we need to stand up as a mostly white congregation and say 'no, we stand with everyone,'” Starr said.

She said she understands if people disagree with their message, but if they do, she encourages them to talk about it with the congregation.

Recently, congregation members witnessed a person taking the signs and driving away, so they reached out to police. According to Starr, police said the license plate did not match the car, and it was a dead lead.

The congregation said it does not want to press charges. They just want to talk to the people doing this to help turn any hate into peace, love, and understanding.

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