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Hopkins Park Band Shell defaced with graffiti overnight ahead of tonight's Black Lives Matter townhall

DeKALB – The Hopkins Park band shell in DeKalb, set to be the location of a Black Lives Matter townhall at 5 p.m. Thursday, was found graffitied Thursday morning with the words, “Trump,” and “All lives matter.”

The town hall meeting, meant to unite the community, will discuss racism, police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Phrases that were spray painted onto the band shell were “All Life Matters!” “TRUMP” with a smiley face and “BLM” crossed out in an “x.”

A DeKalb Park District crew noticed the graffiti around 7 a.m. this morning. By 9 a.m., the park district was working to paint over the graffiti.

Vivian Meade, a coordinator of the townhall meeting, said that she thinks that the graffiti is “terrible.”

“The band shell is such a community location and it’s part of DeKalb’s history,” Meade said. “It’s unfortunate that they took it out on the community by damaging a community building.”

Meade said that even though the band shell was graffitied, the community forum will take place as planned.

“I’m not worried at all, especially since it happened overnight and we woke up this morning to see it,” Meade said. “These people were cowardly enough to do it in the dark when people couldn’t see. There will be police and community presence tonight at the townhall.”

Amy Doll, the park district’s executive director, said that “this is not the first time we’ve had graffiti in our parks.”

“Graffiti isn’t typical at the band shell, usually it’s at the playgrounds,” Doll said. “Graffiti is not allowed. It’s costly to taxpayers. Taxpayers will pay for the paint and staff hours to clean it up. It’s incredibly frustrating. There are better ways to make a statement than defacing property. It’s the most irresponsible way to have a dialogue or to share a message.”

Scott McAdams, DeKalb’s 5th Ward Alderman, saw a photo of the graffitied band shell on social media.

“My first reaction was an emotional reaction, and I thought to myself, ‘Can’t we have a conversation and talk civilly?’” he said. “No matter who did it, it is a criminal act. We need to take a step back and take deep breaths. We can all get along if we calm down, talk to each other and use logic.”

McAdams said he believes the timing of the graffiti was intentional, because it happened before the townhall meeting.

“The words were clearly intended to provoke,” McAdams said. “It’s definitely an agitation and unnecessary. This was anonymous and unwelcoming.”

McAdams also stressed that the words “are not indicative of the DeKalb community as a whole.”

“We don’t want to send the message that DeKalb does not welcome all people or that we don’t want growth or change,” he said. “We are a great community with so much potential and economic development. The graffiti’s words are not appropriate in 2020, and it’s not acceptable in DeKalb.”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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