Police are now investigating possible hate crimes after Trump supporters tore down Black Lives Matter banners from historic black churches in Washington D.C. during clashes with counter protesters on Saturday night.
Videos posted to social media showed a group of men, later identified as the pro-Trump right wing group, ‘The Proud Boys’ removing the BLM banner at the Asbury United Methodist Church and set it ablaze while they cheered and cursed ANTIFA.
Protestors also took down the Black Lives Matter banner from the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church and stomped on it while shouting,”Whose streets? Our streets.”
Metropolitan Police spokesperson, Alaina Gertz told that Washington Post that the incidents at the historic black churches are being investigated “as possible hate crimes.”
Rev. Dr. Ianther M. Mills, a senior pastor at the Asbury United Methodist Church, likened the incident to a cross burning.
“Last night demonstrators who were part of the MAGA gatherings tore down our Black Lives Matter sign and literally burned it in the street. The sign burning was captured on Twitter. It pained me especially to see our name, Asbury in flames. For me it was reminiscent of a cross burning, ” Dr. Mills said in a statement. “Seeing this act on video made me both indignant and determined to fight the evil that has reared its ugly head. We had been so confident that no one would ever vandalize the church, but it has happened.”
Mayor of DC Muriel Browser said in a statement on Sunday: “This weekend we saw forces of hate seeking to use destruction and intimidation to tear us apart. We will not let that happen”. She’s also calling for anyone “with information or video in the area of the houses of worship” to contact the local authorities.
The incidents came after supporters of Donald Trump rallied in DC to show their support one day after the Supreme Court rejected a last ditch effort to overturn the election.
Four men were stabbed and are in critical condition. In total, DC Fire and EMS transported eight people from the protest, including two police officers with non-life-threatening injuries and two people with minor injuries, CNN reports.
Phillip Johnson, 29 of Washington was arrested on a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon, according to a police report obtained by AP.