NORTH PARK — After a city worker was caught on video removing a Black Lives Matter yard sign from Dimitri Hepburn’s home, local officials say they are working to quickly identify and discipline the employee.
But Hepburn said what he wants to know is how city leaders will prevent similar behavior in the future.
“I shared the video because it’s something that happens commonly, and if it’s not caught on video, people are more easily able to write it off as insignificant or say it didn’t happen,” Hepburn said.
The incident, first reported by The Triibe, occurred Aug. 12 near Bryn Mawr and Spaulding avenues.
A city worker wearing a yellow shirt was posting a “No Parking” sign on a nearby tree around noon that day. In the video, captured by Hepburn’s doorbell camera, the worker approaches Hepburn’s home and yanks a white-and-black Black Lives Matter sign from the yard.
The worker puts the sign facedown, hiding the words on it, and walks away.
“I don’t see much other motivation beyond him seeing the words ‘Black Lives Matter,’ him being opposed to that and then doing what he did in response,” Hepburn said.
The incident was an example that racism is unfortunately still “alive and kicking,” he said.
City records show the Department of Transportation issued a permit earlier this month for work on Hepburn’s corner. No subcontractors are approved for the project and the permit is valid Aug. 11-Sept. 10.
Hepburn said the parking restrictions sign listed the city’s Department of Water Management on the bottom and indicated crews would be doing “water and sewer main improvement” in the area.
Megan Vidis, a spokesperson for the water department, said the city “does not tolerate any misconduct on the part of our employees” and the video had been referred to the city’s Office of the Inspector General.
Natalie Kuriata, an Office of the Inspector General spokesperson, confirmed receiving the complaint but would not comment further.
Ald. Samantha Nugent (39th) has met with Hepburn and his wife about the incident. In a statement, she said what happened was “unacceptable.”
Hepburn said he appreciates how responsive Nugent has been and was impressed with how quickly the Office of the Inspector General contacted him to discuss the incident. Since the worker was putting up “No Parking” signs, Hepburn thinks it shouldn’t be too difficult for the city to identify him based on work logs, he said.
“But I am curious to see what ‘not tolerating’ looks like and looking forward to hearing how he’ll be held accountable,” Hepburn said. “I guess we’ll find out after the inspector general’s investigation is over.”
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