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Black Lives Matter sign outside Performing Arts Center vandalized for second time

Multiple holes appeared in the sign Friday. they appear to have been caused by a flame.
Multiple holes appeared in the sign Friday. they appear to have been caused by a flame.(KTUU)
Published: Sep. 25, 2020 at 6:06 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - UPDATE: A series of banners posted outside the Performing Arts Center reading “Black Lives Matter in AK” has been vandalized for a second time.

The banners were originally posted ahead of the Alaska Black Caucus’s March on Alaska in early September, but the night before the event, the portion that said “Black” went missing. This time rather than stealing the sign, it appears someone attempted to burn or melt it.

“With this...being the second time, the message that it sends,” said Celeste Hodge Growden, president and CEO of the Alaska Black Caucus. “We’re really concerned about why this continues to happen.”

Growden said news of the vandalism, coming off the back of a grand jury decision not to prosecute the Kentucky police officers who killed Breonna Taylor Wednesday, had left her disappointed and exasperated, but there was a silver lining: the community’s response. She pointed to several donations the Caucus received to cover the cost of the banner, but she added the community support they saw in response to the vandalism was even more encouraging.

“Our movement is to eradicate systemic racism,” she said. “It’s not about a sign.”

One community member who reached out was Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz. Growden, Berkowitz and representatives from the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts met Friday afternoon to discuss a response to the vandalism.

“I would say those who are trying to intimidate have wound up invigorating,” he said. “Those who have tried to silence have wound up vocalizing.”

While exact details are still the works, the possibility of increasing security or repositioning the banners to a different spot on the PAC was discussed, but Growden said the way she’d like to see the issue resolved is by talking to those responsible.

“I’d love to have them participate in one of our weekly community conversations so that we can hear from one another, learn from each other, and hopefully move forward with progress,” she said. “So that all of us, including Black lives, are counted.”

On top of this being the second time the sign has been vandalized, municipality officials were also concerned that this time it appears to have been done with a flame.

“That’s discouraging,” said Chris Schutte, municipal director of Economic and Community Development. “That’s a public facility, and while it’s made out of a lot of concrete and other hard materials, it still can catch fire and burn to the ground.”

Schutte added that much like the previous vandalism, this has been reported to the Anchorage Police Department.

“The Alaska Center for the Performing Arts staff notified the Anchorage Police Department who in turn put them in contact with the detectives who were assigned previously to the first act of vandalism,” Schutte said.

A spokesperson for APD was able to confirm the initial report came in around 10 a.m. Friday and that officers are investigating, but no other details were offered.

Original Story:

A series of banners posted outside the Performing Arts Center reading “Black Lives Matter in AK” has been vandalized for a second time.

The banners were originally posted ahead of the Alaska Black Caucus’s March on Alaska in early September, but the night before the event, the portion that said Black went missing. This time, rather than stealing the sign, it appears someone attempted to burn or melt it.

“That’s discouraging,” said Chris Schutte, Municipal Director of Economic and Community Development. “That’s a public facility, and while it’s made out of a lot of concrete and other hard materials, it still can catch fire and burn to the ground.”

Schutte added that much like the previous vandalism, this has been reported to the Anchorage Police Department.

“The Alaska Center for the Performing Arts staff notified the Anchorage Police Department who in turn put them in contact with the detectives who were assigned previously to the first act of vandalism,” Schutte said.

A spokesperson for APD was able to confirm the initial report came in around 10 a.m. Friday and that officers are investigating, but no other details were offered.

Copyright 2020 KTUU. All rights reserved.

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