NORTH CENTER — Neighbors in North Center reported having their Black Lives Matters signs stolen or defaced, and racist flyers distributed in their neighborhood this week.
This occurred at homes near Riverbank Neighbors Park on Wednesday, Ald. Matt Martin (47th) said in a Facebook post.
“I am disgusted by these actions, and empathize with the neighbors who bore the brunt of this hate for declaring that Black lives matter — the simple truth that has animated countless conversations and actions over the past month,” Martin said in the post.
At least two neighbors on the 2500 block of Hutchinson Street reported having racist flyers left in their yard and their Black Lives Matter signs stolen, according to Laura Reimers, Martin’s chief of staff.
The incidents have also been reported to the city’s Commission on Human Relations, which investigates and punishes acts of discrimination, she said.
Anne Nolan, who lives on Hutchinson Street, said her husband heard noises outside their home early Wednesday morning. Their home had a Black Lives Matter sign on the front lawn.
When her husband went outside to investigate the noise, he saw the sign was missing and racist flyers were left on their front stoop, Nolan said. The flyers disparaged the Black Lives Matter movement and George Floyd — the man killed by a Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on his neck for several minutes.
Nolan says the incident has only galvanized her neighbors who previously didn’t have signs in their yards to show solidarity for racial justice.
“Maybe we can decorate trees up and down the block too,” she said.
Zach Koutsky, of the 2500 block of West Berteau Avenue, said one of his neighbors with a Black Lives Matter signs found flyers in their yard, too.
Koutsky also said a sign previously posted to the Riverbank Neighbors Park’s community board saying “Don’t Let My Son Be Next” and “Black Lives Still Matter” was defaced with purple marker that said “Black Lives Matter Is A Terrorist Organization.”
He said he notified Martin’s office.
“We’re super progressive and had ‘Black Lives Matter’ signs up even before these protests began. But it still doesn’t stop a racist from spreading their hate,” Koutsky said. “The person doing this is a coward for not showing their face so I can call them out.”
Brian Holdampf and Amy Rescigno said someone threw 20 racist flyers over their fence and into their yard in the 4100 block of North Rockwell.
Their neighbor also told them racist flyers were thrown into their yard. They have a sign that says, “If You Want Peace, Work For Justice” in their window.
“These flyers are just awful but have only emboldened me. When I saw them I was like, ‘I guess we need a bigger Black Lives Matter sign,” Rescigno said.
Martin has offered to distribute free Black Lives Matter signs to neighbors who want them in the Riverbank area.
Already over a dozen neighbors have asked for them, said Michael Sewall, Martin’s director of constituent services and community outreach.
“It’s heartening to see the response isn’t to shrink away but to say ‘Black Lives Matter’ louder and prouder. That people are showing true allyship,” Sewall said.
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