Frederick Ryan, Chief of Police
112 Mystic St.
Arlington, MA 02474
For Immediate Release
Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015
Contact: Captain Richard Flynn, PIO
Email: [email protected]
Contact: Jessica Sacco
Email: [email protected]
Arlington Police Department Captures Suspect in “Black Lives Matter” Banner Defacement
Police, Church Will Seek Restorative Justice
ARLINGTON — Police Chief Frederick Ryan reports that the Arlington Police Department has identified a suspect allegedly responsible for the recent defacement of the “Black Lives Matter” banner at the First Parish Unitarian Church in Arlington.
On Thursday, Nov. 25, 2015, someone placed a sign reading “All” over the word “Black” on the banner. The defacement was discovered by a parishioner on Friday, who took it down.
A witness reported to police they saw a pickup truck pull up to the church, and that a male got out of the truck and walked up to the sign. The witness got a complete license plate number and gave it to police, leading Arlington Police investigators to a 23-year-old Arlington man.
Police spoke to the man, who admitted to putting the “All” sign over the banner.
Instead of arresting and prosecuting the suspect, the Police Department, after consulting with Communities for Restorative Justice (C4RJ) and church leadership, has decided to seek a community-based restorative justice solution, whereby the suspect will be required to make restitution to the church and perform community service in order to avoid a criminal charge of Destruction of a Place of Worship.
“I want to commend the work of our investigators, the witness who came forward, and our terrific partners in the First Parish Unitarian Church for their work in response to this misinformed act,” Chief Ryan said. “This is the perfect case for a restorative justice solution. The suspect in this case will be required to give back to the community that was wronged by his actions. Ultimately, the goal of restorative justice is to repair the breach between the offender and the community.”
Church leadership agrees.
“These kinds of misguided acts call for conversation and learning, not punishment,” said Lori Kenschaft, clerk of the First Parish. “We look forward to talking with this individual, understanding why he did what he did, and being part of the restorative process.”
About Communities for Restorative Justice
C4RJ is a nonprofit partnership of community members and police departments that offers restorative justice in the wake of crime. Our aim is to provide a process by which victims are heard and understood, offenders take responsibility for harm, and where loved ones and community members offer support.
C4RJ is currently active in the communities of Acton, Arlington, Ayer, Bedford, Boxborough, Cambridge, Carlisle, Concord, Groton, Lexington, Littleton, Stow and Wellesley.